Every so often, I am persuaded to leave the perceived safety of my classroom and venture out into the real world and last week saw me lend my services to an outing to the recently refurbished Imperial War Museum. Now I have to confess that I have always enjoyed this museum with lasting memories of the trench and blitz experiences, both with their tinned recordings, sound effects and mannequins, but all that has gone!
With the makeover complete we were treated to a fresher, more interactive experience with education at its heart. Many of the old favourite static displays are still prominent, but there has been a great deal of thought given to the display of specific artefacts that help to illustrate the various conflicts in a chronological order. I am sure that critics will bewail the almost superficial experience, but to me this still rates as one of the best museum in the country. Certainly their education department and the gentlemen that took the session on First World War film making was superb.
It is clear that the face lift is not to everyone's tastes, I have certainly heard mixed reviews and even among the staff present there was a feeling that perhaps the Museum had moved too far away from the preservation of artefacts and was embracing the interactive experience at the expense of display and lets not talk about the ridiculous amount of souvenir shops they now have!
Gripes aside, I don't think I did the museum justice and will have to return before long, but perhaps without the seventy children who needed constant supervision! Still what I did see has left a favourable impression and the museum is certainly continuing to flourish - it is simply too good not to.
For those of you who haven't seen the level of refurbishment, then do have a look at the official time lapse photography of the transformation - it really is quite amazing. Back to report writing for me so that I can free up some painting time at the weekend.