The exhibition Afghanistan: Reflections on Helmand examined the British arrival in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2006. It also explores the decisions that shaped the conflict and the impact this period had on those who were there.

We talked to three of our curators to find out what goes into an exhibition like this and why it is so important.

Download transcript

Image: British troops approach the town of Musa Qala, August 2006 (HTF 2006 047 289)

Introducing the Exhibition

Curators Amanda Mason, John Kerr and Helen Mavin introduce Afghanistan: Reflections on Helmand.

IWM Image: The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, 2004

Preparing for the Exhibition

Our curators describe how they prepared for the exhibition and some of the special issues of working with contemporary material.

IWM Image: British troops take cover during Operation Panchai Palang (panther’s claw) in 2009 (HQUKTF-2009-063-0110)

Collecting for the Exhibition

Our contemporary conflicts collection comes from many different sources. Our curators describe where some of the items in the exhibition have come from.

IWM Image: American troops at Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, 2005

What's different about Contemporary Exhibitions?

Our curators talk about some of the advantages of working on contemporary displays.

IWM Image: Derelict Soviet tank near Kabul, 2005 (4 Div 05 012 065)

Why Contemporary Conflict?

Our curators discuss why IWM puts on exhibitions about contemporary conflict.


Find out more

John Lorimer
Contemporary conflict
Afghanistan and the British Military
In spring 2014, IWM staff visited Afghanistan as part of IWM's Contemporary Conflicts Programme. In the individual accounts presented here, senior Army officers reflect on how the war in Afghanistan has affected the British military.
What Was the British Role in Afghanistan?
In 2014, British combat troops left Afghanistan. British forces had been in the country since 2001 when they were sent as part of a coalition tasked with intervening in Afghanistan to find the leaders of al-Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
David David Cotterrell, Gateway II, 2009 Courtesy of Danielle Arnaud Gallery and the artist
David David Cotterrell, Gateway II, 2009 Courtesy of Danielle Arnaud Gallery and the artist
David Cotterell on Making Art in Afghanistan
David Cotterell went to Afghanistan in 2007, spending time with British forces and documenting the medical treatment of casualties and their journey away from the front line to medical treatment back in the UK.