IWM London

Free exhibition

From Britain and Europe after the Second World War through to the Cold War and the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, Peace and Security: 1945 to 2014 uses clusters of objects to explore some key and often controversial episodes of recent history.

The display reveals how conflicts have been fought and communities divided and re-joined in countries such as Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan from 1945 to the present day.

Many of the objects are from the conflicts themselves and some by artists to offer a different perspective. Together they raise questions about how and why we fight – and how we live with war and its unending aftermath.

An atomic age

Hiroshima following the dropping of the atomic bomb on 6 August 1945
Hiroshima following the dropping of the atomic bomb on 6 August 1945 © IWM MH 29427

Standing at the very heart of the museum, and confronting you as you enter this section is the atomic bomb. The death and devastation that this weapon unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945 has cast a shadow over the world ever since, changing the way that war is fought, altering the balance of political power, and threatening the existence of all humanity. This troubled world is explored in the rest of the displays.

War on the doorstep

2nd Lieutenant David Brough, 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and Lance Corporal Bernard Winter of the 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Regiment, patrol a Belfast street with a Saracen armoured personnel carrier.
© IWM TR 32986

Over the past 40 years Britain has twice faced the challenge of political failure leading to armed conflict on the doorstep of its own communities.

In 1969 there came the disturbing sight of British troops patrolling streets in Northern Ireland. They remained there for some thirty years, struggling to keep order in the face of tension and violence between Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists.

A view from the deck of a large ship, looking down over landing craft below filled with troops. Two helicopters circle above, and in the background are another large ship and landing craft.
© IWM Art.IWM ART 15530 33

On 2 April 1982 Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands, few Britons even knew that they existed. But the British government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had little hesitation in sending a task force 7,950 miles (12,800km) to the South Atlantic to drive them out.

Artist Linda Kitson became the first woman to accompany British troops to the front line as a war artist and was commissioned by IWM to create an official artistic record. Her drawings, on display in Peace and Security: 1945 to 2014captured the energy and tension of the conflict.

Learn more

Cold War

Would you push the nuclear button?

It’s the big question put to candidates in the build up to every election: would you push the nuclear button? But the reality is far more complex than the question suggests.

A Sea Harrier takes off from the ski-jump while various missiles, helicopters and vehicles crowd the flight deck of HMS Hermes.
Britain And The Commonwealth Since 1945

30 Photographs from The Falklands War

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic. Three days later, the United Kingdom dispatched a naval task force to reclaim them. 

Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair and George Bush superimposed onto a map of Iraq
Contemporary conflict

Iraq War 2003 Explained

In this episode of IWM Stories, Chris Cooper explores the timeline of events that led from the 9/11 terror attacks to US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair invading Saddam Hussein's Iraq. 

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Visitors looking at the Harrier jump-jet on display
Permanent Display

Witnesses to War

IWM London

Visitors to IWM London walking past a Sherman tank
© IWM London
Permanent Display

Turning Points: 1934 - 1945

IWM London

Ashcroft Gallery view
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Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes

IWM London