Saturday, July 30, 2011

Imperial War Museum

For my optional visit I decided to go to the Imperial War Museum. The idea of the Imperial War Museum was established in 1917 when the Cabinet wanted to collect and display materials from World War I. The museum was firmly established in 1920 when Parliament appointed a board of trustees. On 9 June 1920 the museum officially opened in Crystal Palace by King George V. The original site of the museum was in South Kensington and presented problems due to a split gallery. King George VI opened the museum in its present location in 1936. From 1940 to 1946 the museum was closed and the materials moved to other locations outside London. After the war ended the scope of the museum included World War II and any other military operation the Empire was involved with before 1914.

Walking up to the museum the first time I was impressed with the two guns that point out from the main entrance. The main exhibition area for the larger military items felt small but contained a lot of machinery. I left this area and went to another floor to look at the WWI and WWII exhibits. The information in the exhibits was really interesting due to the fact that they were presented in an excellent way and contained a lot of detail. Even though the exhibits were interesting I was most interested in two experiences I was told by the director of the British Studies Program. One experience takes you through the trenches of WWI. The first time I went through this I was a little claustrophobic and got a sense of what the soldiers went through in these trenches. The other experience was a Blitz experience from WWII. In this experience you go into a small room and sit down on a bench. The lights then turn off and you get to hear people talking as if they were in a bunker. After listening to this you go through another room and it is suppose to be like you went out into the city to see what happened during the bombing raid. I really enjoyed this experience and it started to get me thinking about the topic for my research paper.

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