Remembering the IWW at the Imperial War Museum

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
Sainsbury’s, the UK based chain of supermarkets, has launched its advert for the Christmas season.
The three minutes and forty seconds spot – Christmas Is For Sharing - recreates the football match played during the 1914 truce, when British and German soldiers celebrated together the date, outside the suffocating trenches.

One hundred years ago, the First World War threw the Europe – and, afterwards, many other countries outside the continent – in a terrible conflict, which lasted until the 1918.

The sparkling shopping season seems another chance not to forget what happened and to celebrate, along with the holy Day, once again the sacrifice of all the soldiers who died during the battles.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
However, in London, there are other chances throughout the year to remember the people in that conflict as well as in other wars where the British army was involved.

One of these opportunities is the Imperial War Museum.

This institution was established with a very precise objective: to make the visitor learning and understanding the reasons, the suffering, the implications of a specific battle.
The person is prompted to reflect upon the progresses of those years, and not just to look at the exhibits, without critical thinking.

“It has excited different reactions through the years”, said Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Research at the Imperial War Museum.

The building was first made on 1814 for the Bethlem Royal Hospital, a structure for mental illnesses.
The institution was then established in the 1917, so, immediately after the end of the First World War.

Since its opening, the structure has seen many protests outside, as many crossovers demonstrated against the pro-war position that the Museum would have represented.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
Children entering and leaving a replica of a family anti-bombing shelter, foreign students taking notes in front of painters of war artists, old people slowly moving from one gallery to another: the exhibition is a place that continues to attract a large variety of audience.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
The Museum does not minimise the atrocities of the conflicts, neither it is a pro-war exhibition. But it tries to reach a balance among the displaying of what really happened, the evidence of the suffering endured, and an educational entertainment.
Suzanne Bardgett added that one of the recent challenges is facing the increasingly international audience.
In fact, the institution is “becoming more international in its outlook”, as she said, that is by offering more intuitive tools for understanding and exhibitions which include a larger view of the conflicts.

First War World, Second War World, and Truth and Memory are the most interesting galleries, but the exhibition is spread over five floors.
The entrance is free.

It will take more time than a commercial spot to visit it, but it is absolutely worth to an improved understanding and a different way to remember.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti