Imperial War Museums will open extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries at IWM London on 20 October 2021.

These galleries will bring unseen objects, untold stories and unheard voices together. They will use the most up-to-date research and technology to help visitors understand the most devastating conflict in human history and the genocide that became known as the Holocaust.

Alongside the new galleries, world-class learning and event suites will enable our visitors to explore this defining period of the 20th century beyond the galleries, making use of new learning resources and programmes to understand how the conflict shaped the world we all live in today.

The New Galleries

A concept image The Holocaust Galleries. A patron looking at a display case with objects and photographs related to the Holocaust.
© IWM (A concept image The Holocaust Galleries)

The New Galleries

As the UK’s leading authority on the public understanding of war and conflict, and custodian of the national collection for the Holocaust, IWM is using its world-renowned insight and expertise to create new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries at IWM London.

Three times the size of IWM’s award-winning First World War Galleries and spanning two floors at IWM London, this major project will see IWM London become the first museum in the world to house dedicated Second World War and Holocaust Galleries under the same roof, examining the complex relationship between the Holocaust and the course and consequences of the Second World War

Second World War Galleries

A concept image IWM's new Second World War Galleries. Patrons exploring the Second World War galleries full of images and objects.
© IWM (A concept image IWM's new Second World War Galleries)

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 galleries will begin by exploring how during the 1930s the signs that war was coming grew ever more apparent. They will then continue into Britain and its empire’s early experience of the war, before showing how the Second World War became a truly global conflict in 1941. The galleries will highlight what led to the Allied victory in 1945 and explore the aftermath of what was the most devastating war in human history.

The V-1 flying bomb

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

The V-1 flying bomb

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

The 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. Individual stories from some of the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust will be told through over 2000 photos, books, artworks and letters, and personal objects ranging from jewellery and clothing to toys and musical instruments

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.

DONATE NOW

Over the last year, IWM has suffered a dramatic loss of revenue through the closure of our venues. Now is your opportunity to make a contribution at whatever amount you can and help us achieve our funding goal to make these dynamic galleries a reality.

Look out for

  • Gena Turgel’s Wedding Dress

    Gena Turgel was liberated from Belsen Concentration Camp on 15 April 1945. On the second day following her liberation she met Sergeant Norman Turgel who was serving with 53 FS Section, Intelligence Corps attached to 8th Corps.

     

    They were married on 7 October 1945 at Lubeck. Her wedding dress will be displayed in The Holocaust Galleries for the first time.

  • A photograph of Wohl family outside of family business
    © IWM A photograph of Wohl family outside of family business
    The Wohl Family Collection

    On 14 December 1938 Leonhard and Clara Wohl, Jewish couple originally from Northern Germany, sent their two younger daughters, Eva and Ulli, to Britain on a Kindertransport.

     

    Among several objects going on display in the Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries are Eva Wohl's last exchange of Red Cross telegrams with her father. Leonard and Clara sadly did not move across to Britain to be with their daughters and were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz in 1943.  

  • USS Arizona under attack
    USS Arizona

    The destruction of the USS Arizona accounted for almost half the lives lost during the entire attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a tragic attack which proved a critical turning point in the global conflict, resulting in the US declaring war against Japan.

     

    The story will be brought to life in the Second World War Galleries by displaying a piece of wreckage from the ship, which will be the first time a piece of the USS Arizona has ever left the United States.

  • The 122mm Field Howitzer Model 1938 M30

    This was was one of the most successful Russian artillery pieces of the Second World War. This object will help tell the story of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union and will emphasise the industrial miracle that enabled the Soviet Union to drive out the invaders. Defeats in 1941 had deprived the Soviet Union of 40% of its coal and steel and 32% of its industrial workforce.

     

    Despite this it was out-producing Germany in weapons manufacturing by 1943. During the war it manufactured 127,000 artillery pieces, compared to Germany’s 27,000.

Update on Construction

Large Object installation underway at IWM London

Update on Construction

Work continues at IWM London on construction of the new galleries. The basebuild of the galleries has now been completed, including the laying of resin floors, painting walls, and completing high level decoration, and we now move on to the next stage of the construction. The first of the large objects have now been moved been installed into the into the space. Alongside the V-1 flying bomb that has now been suspended in the space between the new galleries, a 122mm Field Howitzer Model 1938 M30 and a Nebelwerfer 41 rocket launcher have now been moved into position.

More from IWM

  • Second World War and Holocaust Partnership Programme

    IWM’s Second World War and Holocaust Partnership Programme (SWWHPP) was established to collaborate with cultural partners across the UK and engage new audiences in projects which explore local Second World War and Holocaust collections and themes within the national context.

     

    SWWHPP is generously funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

  • The Holocaust Learning Programme

    To support students visiting IWM’s new galleries to learn about the Holocaust, IWM has developed a new Holocaust learning programme.

     

    Created by IWM experts, leading creative agency Friday Sundae Studio and award-winning writer Stef Smith, the programme uses ambitious digital technology, IWM collections and storytelling to encourage reflection, discussion and understanding of the Holocaust, creating a sensitive narrative that will support students learning about this difficult history.

     

    This programme is available for students aged 13+ (KS3 and above) who will be studying the Holocaust as part of the National Curriculum.

  • New publications: Total War: A People’s History of the Second World War and The Holocaust

    To support visitors wanting to delve deeper into the content and themes of IWM’s new galleries, and to further develop their understanding of the Second World War and the Holocaust, IWM is releasing two new publications in October 2021.

     

    Total War: A People’s History of the Second World War by IWM curators Kate Clements, Paul Cornish and Vikki Hawkins is an innovative illustrated history of the Second World War, told with the help of personal stories from across the globe. Total War is published by Thames & Hudson in partnership with IWM.

     

    The Holocaust by IWM historian James Bulgin features a wealth of archival material including emotive objects and unique personal testimonies, examining how the course of the Second World War as well as ideology and individual decision making were all critical factors in the execution of The Holocaust. Author James Bulgin has led the curation of IWM’s new The Holocaust Galleries,

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