To mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM has released concept sketches of the new Second World War and Holocaust Galleries which will open at IWM London in 2021.

The new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries will draw heavily upon the unique personal stories that IWM’s collections contain to present a vivid narrative that reflects the realities of the Second World War, the Holocaust and the resulting impact upon the world.

Please note - IWM's permanent Second World War Galleries and Holocaust Galleries are now open.  

Second World War Galleries

IWM concept image of new Holocaust and Second World War galleries

The Second World War Galleries will be formed of six individual spaces which will tell the story of the conflict chronologically, exploring its global scale and impact upon people and communities.

The new galleries will reveal how whole societies were drawn into the war through mobilisation, direct attack and occupation.

The V-1 flying bomb

IWM concept image of the new Second World War and Holocaust galleries

A 783kg V-1 flying bomb will be suspended between the two new galleries, presenting a striking symbol of how the Holocaust and the Second World War are interconnected.

Over 10,000 of these ‘Doodlebugs’ were launched at London and other British cities, killing over 6,000 people. Widely remembered as part of Britain’s war, the V-1 is also an important part of the Holocaust story. Many thousands of concentration camp prisoners, labouring in the most appalling conditions, died making these weapons in Nazi Germany.

The Holocaust Galleries

MA concept image IWM's new Holocaust galleries

Personal stories will be at the heart of the new The Holocaust Galleries, along with a breadth of objects and original material that will help audiences consider the cause, course and consequences of this terrible period in world history.

The new galleries will explore three core themes of persecution, looking at the global situation at the end of the First World War; escalation, identifying how violence towards Jewish people and communities developed through the 1930s; and annihilation, examining how Nazi policy crosses the threshold into wide-scale state-sponsored murder in the heart of twentieth century Europe.

By robustly interrogating the identity of the perpetrators, the galleries will explain who was responsible for these crimes, what motivated them and how ordinary they often were in every other way.

The £30.5 million project will see IWM London become the first museum in the world to physically and intellectually present the Holocaust narrative within the context of the Second World War.

Spanning two floors, the new galleries will tell the story of this period of history for a 21st century audience, highlighting how the Second World War remains the most devastating conflict in human history.

Diane Lees, IWM Director-General, said: 'At the centre of the brutal and barbaric conflict was the state sponsored mass murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children. This is why we are placing IWM’s new Holocaust Galleries at the central chronological fulcrum of our iconic London museum and linking them, architecturally and conceptually, to our new Second World War Galleries.

New vision

IWM concept image of the new Holocaust and Second World War galleries

Incorporating well known, familiar objects, documents and photography alongside material displayed by IWM for the first time and using the full range of modern display techniques, the new galleries will engage a new generation of museum visitors with this complex and formative period of human history.

Alongside the new galleries a digitally-enabled learning suite will be developed, as well as a brand new public engagement programme which will deepen audience engagement with IWM’s collections both in the galleries and beyond the museum.

IWM Shop

The Holocaust

Based on IWM’s ground-breaking new Second World War and Holocaust Galleries, this publication examines the development of the Holocaust as it appeared to those who witnessed it.

Total War

Total War is an illustrated account of the most pivotal historical episode of the 20th century: the Second World War. It was not one single event, but rather the confluence of many simultaneous conflicts across the globe – on land, in the air, across the sea and beneath it. 

Britain At War In Colour - Air Land And Sea

Britain at War in Colour showcases 100 of the best rare and original colour images of the Second World War from the IWM photograph collection.


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