Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Imperial War Museum - of War and Peace

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Imperial War Museum
Lambeth Road
London SE1 6HZ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7416 5000
Open daily 10am - 6pm
www.london.iwm.org.uk
Rarely do tourists venture south of London's Southwark and for good reason too. With the majority of the London's attraction congregating between Westminster and Tower Hill, I don't really see any reason why anyone should go beyond Zone 1 especially if they are in London for only a couple of days.

That's true unless you have a kid tagging along. For just a short stroll from Elephant & Castle tube station lies the Imperial War Museum. Far from the conventional idea of museums, the Imperial Museum with its array of life-size war machines and exhibits that encourage hands on caters to adults and children alike.

Two 15 inch guns first mounted on HMS Ramillies and HMS Resolution in World War 1 dominate the Imperial War Museum's entrance. On the side lies a slab of the Berlin Wall, decorated with graffiti of peace messages. That set the tone for the museum itself - a display of raw military power with a message of reconciliation.

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Once through the main entrance, be prepared to be dazzled by a somewhat cluttered exhibit of life-size vintage war machinery that include the V-2 rocket that terrorized Londoners at the height of World War 2, Churchill tank, Sherman V tank - the workhorse of the Allied armour, a Mark V - which invention was made necessary by the First World War's trench warfare, submarines, jeeps, land rovers with fighter planes (yes, the famous Spitfire among them) suspended from the ceiling.

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Other than that, what interest me more are the many individual galleries located on different floors. My favorite include a section dedicated to the Desert Fox, General Montgomery, which detailed his life and war exploits. Personal artifacts such as his green beret is on display too. Other than that, there is a section on the European and Asia Pacific front with a small section on the fall of Singapore as well.

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If that isn't enough, the sections on the Secret Service - MI5 (intel defense) and MI6 (foreign espionage), Crime Against Humanity, the Holocaust would surely intrigue.

If you are in London for more than a couple of days, the Imperial War Museum is definitely worth a visit. Believe me, your kids (boys especially) will be thrilled and I'm sure you'll find yourself quite occupied as well. There's a well stocked cafe on the ground floor should you need a breather. Do set aside at least three hours for this.

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