Help tell the stories that matter
Diane Lees: “Hello and thank you for joining us for a preview of Imperial War Museum's new Second World War Galleries and The Holocaust Galleries. As the UK’s leading authority on the public understanding of war and conflict and custodian of the national collection for the Holocaust, we at IWM have used our world-renowned insights and expertise to create new Second World War Galleries and Holocaust Galleries at IWM London. The Second World War and the Holocaust will soon pass out of living memory, leaving us without the first-hand testimony of veterans, eyewitnesses, and survivors. Our new galleries will preserve their stories and ensure that we never forget what they experienced. These galleries, which have been six years in the making, bring unseen objects, untold stories, and unheard voices together. They use the most up-to-date research and technology to help visitors understand the most devastating conflicts in human history and also the genocide that became known as the Holocaust.
Three times the size of IWM’s award-winning First World War Galleries and spanning two floors at IWM London, this 30.5 million pound project was made possible largely thanks to the generosity of private philanthropy, trusts and foundations, donations, a public fundraising campaign, support from our members and lottery funding. These galleries will enable our visitors to see and understand the Second World War and Holocaust together and in context, as IWM becomes the first and only museum in the world to house connected Second World War Galleries and Holocaust Galleries under the same roof.”
Vikki Hawkins: “The Second World War was the pivotal moment of the 20th century and the war with which every visitor to IWM will have a personal connection. Our new Second World War Galleries continue the story begun by our First World War Galleries and explain why only two decades later the world was facing a second global conflict.”
Kate Clements: “Surveys have shown that public knowledge and understanding of the war is patchy. People are often unaware of its truly global nature or how its social, economic and political consequences shaped our modern world. we worked with leading historians and academics to shape the narrative and content of the Second World War Galleries and embedded learnings from a range of visitor and stakeholder workshops in their design and interpretation.”
Vikki Hawkins: “The Second World War was a global conflict on an unprecedented scale, the like of which has never been seen since. Its impact was devastating, fighting took place on land, in the air and across and beneath the sea, which resulted in unparalleled levels of killing, suffering, violence, separation and loss and made no distinction between civilians and soldiers. When Britain went to war, so did its Empire. Britain drew heavily on its Empire's people and resources. With more than 1,500 objects and personal stories from over 80 countries, the new galleries highlight the vastly different experiences of those affected.”
Kate Clements: “The War’s events, big and small connected distant places and communities around the world. From Tokyo to Valletta, Mombasa to New York, Rangoon to Warsaw, lines of connection stretched across and around the globe. New international objects and stories that we have acquired for the galleries underline this global story bringing together items from places including China, India, Brazil, the US, New Zealand and Italy.”
James Bulgin: “The Holocaust has become one of the most intensively researched periods in history but analysis that we have conducted suggests that levels of public knowledge and understanding have not kept pace with this academic work. These galleries seek to close that gap. They reveal how a modern state in the heart of Europe became responsible for the genocidal murder of millions of men, women, and children. They show that it was not industrial systems and procedures that killed people but men and women participating in brutal and ruthless face-to-face killing. Most importantly they ask visitors to reflect on how this has changed the way that we think about ourselves and what we're capable of.
We have worked with experts and organisations across the world to develop our Holocaust Galleries. They incorporate the most up-to-date research and evaluation including archive material only available since the end of the Cold War such as records of mass shootings by SS and German Police Units in eastern European countries and reflect the latest developments in Holocaust education, academia and understanding. Individual stories from some of the Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust are told through over 2000 photos, books, artworks and letters and personal objects ranging from jewellery and clothing to toys and musical instruments.
Six million people were not murdered in the dark nor do they live in it. IWM’s new Holocaust Galleries are bright spaces that will shine a much-needed light on the horrors of the Holocaust. They use contemporary footage of sites across Europe bearing the traces of the Holocaust to help visitors understand that these things happened in our world.”
Diane Lees: “To support our visitors in understanding how the conflicts shape the world we all live in today, we have built learning and event suites which will enable our visitors to explore this defining period of the 20th century beyond the galleries, making use of new learning resources and programmes.
Our new Holocaust Learning Programme will support students to engage sensitively with this incredibly difficult history. Through our Second World War and Holocaust Partnership Program we are working with cultural partners across the UK to explore local Second World War and Holocaust collections within that national context.
Thank you so much for joining us for this virtual preview. We look forward to welcoming you to IWM London and to our new galleries soon.”
A study of 8,000 English secondary school pupils showed that 63% of young people did not know what the term antisemitism meant.* It's as urgent now as any time to increase the public understanding of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
IWM London is the first museum in the world to house dedicated Second World War and The Holocaust galleries under the same roof, changing the way young people understand the past for generations to come. Thanks to a very generous group of supporters we opened the new galleries to the public in October 2021.
Over the last year, IWM has suffered a dramatic loss of revenue through the closure of our venues. Please consider supporting the continued conservation and preservation of these Galleries as an essential educational resource for future generations.
Make a donation
Show your support at any level through our JustGiving page. Any gift we receive, no matter the size, makes a vital contribution to our ongoing work, from conserving our collection to supporting our public programme.
Help us keep history alive
Your valued donation will directly help us tell the personal stories of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and ensure our team of experts can:
Deliver world-class learning suites to educate future generations on this defining period of the 20th century.
© IWM A photograph of Wohl family outside of family business
Display the personal belongings of people like the Wohl family, who were torn apart and never reunited by the Nazi persecution of Jewish communities and the outbreak of the Second World War.
Carefully manoeuvre collections items such as this V-1 flying bomb into position.
Foster Future Understanding
Our new learning programme will give students the chance to have facilitated conversations, interact with our collections, and use innovative technology to reflect on, and find their own answers to, key questions about the Holocaust.
IWM will also support teachers, ensuring they are fully equipped to illuminate this challenging period in history for future generations.
By supporting the new galleries, you are directly helping nurture students’ curiosity and enhance their understanding.
Conserving a Masterpiece
Support from our generous donors has allowed us to do essential conservation of artworks such as Paul Nash's Battle of Britain, which brings to life the intense aerial campaign fought between Britain and Germany in the summer of 1940.
Completed in 1941, Nash intended the work to capture an overall impression of this three-month battle rather than one single event. The oil painting are displayed in the new galleries as a striking visual that illustrates key elements of the aerial campaign.
Before any of our artworks were able to go on display, conservation was key. Your support of the new galleries ensures that our experts can display paintings in the best possible condition and preserve them for generations of visitors to come.
Stories from our supporters
Students raising funds
A message from Genocide80Twenty – a group of students who work in their spare time to raise awareness of the Holocaust and other genocides:
“With the rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial in this country and around the world we know how important education about the Holocaust is. That is why our school group, ‘Genocide80Twenty’, decided to write a book about it for our peers. Many of us in our group had been to the current Holocaust exhibition at IWM in previous years and know the impact that our visits had on us. Holocaust survivors will sadly not be with us to educate the next generation of young people and so we think that having superb museums to help young people understand the history of the Holocaust is absolutely vital. That is why we have decided to support the new Holocaust Galleries with the proceeds of our book.”
A message from Sophia Webster
"This Holocaust Memorial Day I donated 20% of all full-price sales from sophiawebster.com to IWM’s Holocaust Galleries. This donation is in loving memory of my wonderful Grandma, Ruth Webster née Steindler, a Czech Jewish refugee who fled Nazi-occupied Prague aged 7. Arriving in London, she had to learn a new language and adopt a new culture, living with strangers. She was reunited with her mother but never saw her father again. Grandma never forgot her homeland but was forever grateful to have escaped the Holocaust and be given the opportunity to grow up and belong in a new country.
Imperial War Museum London was very close to my Grandma’s heart, having worked there as an educator for many years sharing her story as a young Holocaust survivor to the schools who visited. She passionately dedicated her life to teaching young people about the dangerous consequences of persecution, discrimination and hate."