Family fun in and around London

Imperial War Museum

Posted by on Thursday, 22 November, 2012 in Featured, Museums, Rainy day

Imperial War Museum

Last week the combination of Remembrance Sunday and a visit from MJ’s Great-Grandad prompted us to take a trip to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.  The Museum is due to close for redevelopment for six months from January to July 2013 so, if you’re in the area, now is a great time to take a look inside before it all changes.

The ambitious redesign of the Imperial War Museum is due to take a decade to complete, with the first phase opening in time for the 100 year anniversary of the First World War in 2014.  As a result, some of the permanent galleries are already closed, but there’s still plenty to see.  On arrival, MJ spent ages toddling around the main atrium looking at the military vehicles on display, and fascinated by three planes that are suspended from the ceiling.

Lord Ashcroft Gallery

We decided to head up to the top floor next to have a look at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition.  The Gallery tells astonishing stories of bravery by recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross, from the Crimean War to more recent military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Gallery features plenty of interactive technology, artefacts and listening posts alongside the medals themselves, which all help to bring the individual stories to life.

Heading back down to the ground floor, we spent some time in the A Family in Wartime gallery.  Based on the true story of the Allpress family, who lived in South London throughout the Second World War, the exhibition includes a detailed model of their house and a life size Anderson shelter (which was full of school children trying to imagine what it would have been like to sleep in there).  With everyday objects, photos, interviews and stories of how the Allpresses fared after the war, the gallery provides an impressively accessible insight for all ages into wartime life in Britain.

Imperial War Museum atrium and aeroplanes

There are a number of other galleries to visit, some of which are not suitable for children (the Holocaust exhibition and Crimes Against Humanity gallery) and others which MJ simply did not have the attention span to see on this visit, such as the Museum’s Art Gallery.

Interest rating

There’s plenty to interest all ages at the Imperial War Museum and it promises to be even better in its new incarnation from 2014.

Admission cost

Admission to the Imperial War Museum is free.  An entrance fee may be payable for admission to special exhibitions.


Red Cross Jeep and Kitchen Front Cafe

The Museum’s café, Kitchen Front, is located in the atrium and serves a variety of hot and cold meals and snacks, kids’ meals and picnic items.  High chairs are available.


The Imperial War Museum has baby changing and is pushchair accessible.  The front entrance has steps with no ramp, but there is an accessible entrance situated at the side of the Museum – ask a member of staff for directions.

Opening hours

The Imperial War Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm.  The Museum will close for 6 months from 2 January 2013 for redevelopment.

Armoured vehicle at IWM

Contact details

Telephone: 020 7416 5000


Getting there

Address: IWM London, Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ

By train: Lambeth North (Bakerloo Line), Waterloo (Bakerloo, Northern, Jubilee Line), Southwark (Jubilee Line), Elephant & Castle (Bakerloo, Northern Line)

By bus: 1, 3, 12, 45, 53, 59, 63, 68, 100, 159, 168, 171, 172, 176,188, 344, 360, 453, C10


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