As many times as I've been to Manchester, I've never been to the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays. It was time to rectify that. The museum has been open for about 10 years and is located in the Salford Quays development, across a footbridge from the Lowry theatre but you can get to it by road as well.
The modern building looks over the Ship Canal and has a viewing platform that you can pay a couple of pounds and go up. The platform is enclosed by the tower structure but it's not weather-proof. It's like viewing from a fenced in area so it can be a bit chilly.
The musuem is not large and is an open concept with some smaller cubbyhole type areas for specific displays. The theme is the 20th century and covers war from WWI to the present day. There are vehicles and artifacts and a lot of memorabilia donated by military members over the years. They have letters and audio and video as well. When we were there, they showed a video presentation on all the walls around us and it was chilling to see the Nazi flags and images so large, filling the room for a few minutes. The presentation was about how war affected the lives of children and was narrated by actors, children and probably even some people who were telling their own memories and stories. There were quite a few groups of schoolchildren there that day as well. The stories were very moving. This "Children and War" is part of a three-video presentation called the Big Picture Show that has won awards and rightly so.
There are sections about women at war, the British colonies at war, nuclear age, etc. You can do research there as well.
When you first enter you are presented with a full sized Harrier jump jet hanging from the ceiling and a modern cross-shaped white sculpture interpreting the artist's view of war, it's called The Crusader and while i don't usually take to modern art, it was very good. Other vehicles on display include a firefighting odd looking thing that was used in Manchester during the Blitz and the pod of a fighter plane where the gunner would sit. It looks very tiny considering.
One display that gave us both shivers were two pieces of twisted, rusted metal. One was the remains of a car that had contained a bomb and the other, a taller piece, was the twisted remains of a window framing from the World Trade Centre.
The museum is fully accessible with a lift and accessible toilets. The gift shop is decent and the cafe is a good size. They are open every day until 5. You can get the Metrolink tram to one of two stops across the canal, MediaCityUK or Harbour City and walk over the footbridge. The museum is free but you have to pay for parking if you have your vehicle.
Imperial War Museum North is housed in an impressive new purpose-built building designed by Daniel Liebeskind. Unfortunately, the inside is rather disappointing.
In the Main Exhibition Space a ‘dramatic display of projected images and sound’ happens hourly. This includes wartime images and sound clips as well as voices of children talking about what war means to them, interspersed with images of poppies accompanied by a recitation of ‘In Flanders Fields’. It is quite interesting in itself, but because it is in the main space, visitors have no choice but to watch it, as it is too dark to see the other exhibits while the show is running.
The main space is organised into themed ‘silos’. When I visited, there was an exhibition with the theme of ‘Women and War’, which started with a display of shoes, supposedly illustrating a quotation about war allowing women to stand on their own feet, which seemed to me to be slightly patronising. Other exhibits in this section included nurses’ uniforms and a diary of a World War II munitions factory worker.
One of my main objectives while in Manchester on this visit was to to Visit the New Imperial War museum (North) ..
This apparently caused a bit of a stir down south in London when it was decided that a new Museum be built to display some more of the huge amount of war vehicles,weapons,and war memorabilia that was stored away in London unable to be displayed due to lack of space.and it was going North to Manchester ..(the site chosen) apparently there were some that did not like these items leaving the City of London !!...
I caught a tram from the city centre that dropped me off someway from the Museum but I just got directions from helpful locals and it was a nice walk by the canal... The museum itself is an impressive new building with out front are located many tracked armoured fighting vehicles were on display.Once Inside there are many different exhibits from past wars and battles..they have also a time when the lights go out and a simulation of London in the blitz with the sounds of bombs exploding with air raid sirens ..etc...it is extremely well done.. allow yourself a fair bit of time here as there is a lot to see..I was extremely happy with my visit.
ENTRY IS FREE
THE MUSEUM IS OPEN DAILY FROM MAR TO OCT 10am till 6pm
NOV TO MARCH 10 am till 5pm
We had visited the London IWM, and found it rather dull and unimaginative. However this was not the case in Manchester. It was an excellent place to visit - well thought out, exhibitions well curated and a good mix of typical and unexpected materials related to War (past and present).
I thought this place was amazing the building has a feel of being in a aircraft hanger about it. Really interesting place to visit with explanations of the parts that everyone had to play in the world wars including the woman and the home guard (aka dads army). There was also a temporary exhibition there called animals at war and it had really interesting exhibits about the job that the animals played in the wars.
Just over the bridge from the Lowry Centre, The Imperial War Museum North shows the visitor how war affects lives -- every hour, for 15 minutes, giant screens provide an audio-visual show to complement traditional exhibits. The interior layout of the museum is deliberately somewhat confusing because, as the guides say, war 'turns your world upside down'. The museum has a permanent exhibition of war-related art and holds temporary photographic exhibitions in the area next to the cafe -- for children there are some interactive exhibits relating to war. With exhibits from the First World War right up to recent conflicts the museum is well worth a visit.
March - October 10am - 6pm
November - February 10am - 5pm
(Closed 24, 25, 26 December)
It is trully impressive place, beginning with the aluminium-clad showpiece designed by acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind. It is devided in to three "Shards" - the tallest of which stands 55m high- that are intented to symbolise th three theatres of war since 1900: air, sea and land. Whereas so many war museum focus on the generally sterile militry hardware used in past conflicts, this one adopts a more human stance, examinig people's experience of a world destroyed by war(although there is also some militry hardware on show. To get there take a metrolink to Broadway or Harbour city.
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM NORTH: Across the bridge from the Lowry is the Imperial War Museum of the North. Pay no heed to 'imperial' and forget 'war' and forget 'museum.' This unique building uses the memoribilia and memories of ordinary people to explain the effect of human conflict. It doesn't glorify war or Britain in any way, nor is it full of tanks and missiles and other military equipment.
There are plans for a Jewish Holocaust museum nearby as well. A designer outlet mall, cinema and luxury apartments all done to a sleek modern design opened recently.
For cheap eats, a couple of the restaurants lined up alongside the Salford Quays tram stop offer hot buffet lunches for about 6 pounds.
One other feature - and this became a major annoyance - is that every 20 minutes or so, the whole hall goes dark while an A/V presentation takes place, that is projected onto the walls of the hall. It's a good effect and quite impressive. Thing is... you have to stop what you're doing, and this happens again and again and again, and really breaks up your enjoyment of the rest of the exhibition
The War Museum is really interesting, a vast hall filled with exhibits and history. A "timeline" runs right around the outer wall of the exhibition space, chronicalling War, its causes and effects (from Britains perspective) in the 20th and 21st centuries. The rest of the hall has some particular exhibits and "personal stories" of people who have lived through conflict. It's quite fascinating.
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