Two ‘extensive’ new galleries on the Second World War and the Holocaust will open at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) later this year.
The £30.7 million project will see the IWM’s London branch become the first museum in the world to house dedicated exhibitions on the war and the genocide under the same roof.
According to a statement released in June, the adjoining exhibitions will be three times the size of the museum’s current award-winning First World War galleries.
More than 1,500 collection items will feature in the display on the war, including new acquisitions from China, the US, Japan, and across Britain’s former empire. Meanwhile, the story of the Holocaust will be told through 2,000 photos, books, artworks, and letters, as well as personal objects from toys to jewellery.
Another significant acquisition includes a section of barracks, likely the last remaining part of Velten, a sub-camp of Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. This will be the first time any part of a camp barracks has gone on public display in the United Kingdom.
Commenting on the announcement, Diane Lees, Director-General of the IWM, said: ‘This has been one of our most ambitious projects to date, and we are very much looking forward to sharing the fascinating stories that these galleries will tell when we open their doors in October.’
‘It has never been more important to learn about the Second World War and the Holocaust, and to understand this defining period of the 20th century, which dramatically shaped the world we live in today,’ Lees added.
‘Though this conflict will soon pass out of living memory, leaving us without the first-hand testimony of its veterans, eye-witnesses and survivors, IWM will ensure that the experiences of those generations are never forgotten through our incredible new galleries, which have been almost seven years in the making.’
The museum is asking the public to support a fundraising campaign to raise the final £250,000 it estimates is needed to ensure the conservation of the barracks, as well as the opening of the galleries.
IWM’s five branches attract more than 2.5 million visitors a year, placing them among the most popular museums in the country. Along with branches in Manchester and at Duxford Aerodrome, IWM is responsible – also in London – for the Churchill War Rooms and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast, which is moored on the Thames.