A world-leading 20th century collection

Mounds. A work of art by Paul Seawright in response to the war in Afghanistan. A series of earth mounds in a vast open landscape.
Mounds. Paul Seawright's response to the War in Afghanistan. © Paul Seawright (Art.IWM ART 16793)

The IWM collection features almost 20,000 works of art, documenting conflict since 1914 and representing a wide range of mediums, from photography to sculpture. 

Included in the collection are works created by artists under the British government war art schemes of the First and Second World Wars, including works by the likes of Sir William Orpen and John Singer Sargent. 

Throughout its history, IWM has also commissioned artwork. During the First World War, the Women’s Work Sub-Committee commissioned ten female artists to document women's roles during the conflict. IWM continues to commission new works from artists such as Steve McQueen and Paul Seawright, reflecting on conflicts including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Afghanistan.

Coming in 2023: The Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries at IWM London will explore how artists, photographers and filmmakers together bear witness to, document and tell the story of conflict, and demonstrate how artistic interpretation can uniquely shape our understanding of war.

Discover the collection

  • Explore the full collection of IWM"s digitised artworks

  • A view of a large, sunlit crater blasted into white chalky soil. The remains of German barbed-wire defences in the distance are a dark rust-coloured pink. A German and a British steel helmet and the remains of a uniform lie on the edge of the crater in the foreground. The sky is covered in dense white cloud with blue patches visible at the top of the composition.

    View the works of Sir William Orpen, who was an official war artist during the First World War and also produced commissions for IWM.

  • See how artists responded to the Blitz in 1940-1941

Second World War, Art And Design

10 Paintings of Wartime London

Kenneth Rowntree, Foreign Service-men in Hyde Park, Early Summer, 1940, 1940.
© IWM ART (LD 415)
Kenneth Rowntree, 'Foreign Service-men in Hyde Park, Early Summer' (1940).

London was transformed by the Second World War. Air raids tore up the very fabric of the city night after night, and by day its streets were filled with soldiers, both British and from overseas. Artists living and working in London captured this ever-changing landscape in beautiful paintings, 10 of which are featured here. 

Explore the interactive Hall of Remembrance

This 3D experience allows you to explore the Hall of Remembrance, a memorial gallery designed by the British architect Charles Holden. It was intended as a memorial to the Britons who gave their lives during the war and would display a set of remarkable paintings commissioned by the British Government toward the end of the war. But the project ran out of time and money and the Imperial War Museum became the custodian of the paintings and sculpture that had been produced.

Explore the Hall of Remembrance


This War Artist Captured D-Day in Stunning Watercolours

Looking down the quayside following the D-Day landings, with military personnel and vehicles, including a bicycle. French Tricolores and Union Jacks are hanging from buildings. A rifle and grenades lie in the gutter.
© IWM Art.IWM ART LD (4466)

Anthony Gross was among the first artists to be commissioned as a British official war artist in the Second World War. He was also one of the longest serving. In 1944, Gross returned to Britain in time to witness the build-up to the momentous D-Day landings. 

Art And Design, Second World War

Curator's Choice: Eric Ravilious

A view of five Spitfires on an airfield. The two Spitfires in the foreground stand side by side, with a brick wall between them.
© IWM Art.IWM ART LD 2125

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