Until 5 January 2020

IWM London

Free event

Culture Under Attack is a season of three free exhibitions, live music, performances and talks at IWM London that explore how war threatens not just people’s lives, but also the things that help define us.

From the Nazi theft of art and the bombing of Coventry Cathedral to the destruction by ISIS of objects from Mosul Museum in Iraq, war devastates lives, kills people and destroys the cultural heritage that they hoped would outlive them. Sometimes destruction is accidental, but often our cherished places, objects and stories are deliberately targeted in conflict. 

What Remains, our new exhibition at IWM London, in partnership with Historic England, explores why cultural heritage is attacked during war and the ways we save, protect and restore what is targeted. Over 50 photographs, oral histories, objects and artworks will be on display, from both IWM and Historic England’s collections.

Ruins of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, following destruction by ISIS in August 2015
Ruins of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, following destruction by ISIS in August 2015 © Hassan Blal / Alamy Stock Photo

Destroying cultural heritage often strikes at the heart of our communities. What Remains highlights historic and contemporary moments where places, art and artefacts have been attacked by those who wish to exploit or even erase whole civilizations from history. Spanning 100 years, discover stories such as Hitler’s Baedeker Raids in 1942, where German bombers targeted historic towns and cities noted in travel guides of Britain, and the Taliban destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001.

Bamiyan Buddha in the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan before it was destroyed by the Taliban.
Bamiyan Buddha in the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan which was subsequently destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Just as cultural heritage is attacked, it is also bravely protected, restored, or rebuilt into new forms that let us commemorate and reflect on loss. Learn about individuals and groups who risk their lives to protect culture, including Khaled al-Asaad, who died trying to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra, Syria, from ISIS in 2015.

What Remains is part of Culture Under Attack, a free season of three exhibitions, live music, performances and talks at IWM London that explore how war threatens not just people’s lives, but also the things that help define us. Telling stories spanning 100 years, Culture Under Attack reveals why some try to erase or exploit culture, while others risk everything to protect, celebrate and rebuild it.

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Location

IWM London building
IWM
Address

IWM London
Lambeth Road
London
SE1 6HZ

  • Lambeth North
  • Elephant & Castle