Imperial War Museum in London is a great place to visit for all ages and all people. The entrance with the two huge guns is imposing. And as you walk into the first big hall, giant tanks, relics of past wars and V2 rocket replicas tower over you, making you realize how much of human history has gone into making war.
Many exhibits are interactive, so children and adults can see how small the spaces are that submariners would have to live in, or how hard, hot and tight was the space inside the gun turret of a tank. The size of the V2 rockets that bombarded London during World War II from Germany tell you just how terrifying that must have been as they seem, as you stand next to them, almost as big as a space rocket or plane.
Inside the Imperial War Museum — Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum London
But the museum is not just about conveying the size and terror of war, but also about telling people who attend about the social history of war. There are changing exhibits, with one of the most recent (added in summer 2013) looking into spies and the history of spying and war, an apt subject given what happened with the NSA revelations in 2013.
Other exhibitions have looked into children's stories in wartime, air raid shelters, the kitchen garden and wartime fashions. Some permanent exhibitions include the Holocaust and Britain's involvement in wars around the world throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Many will shock you, many will make you cry and all of them will be incredibly interesting.
In 2014, particularly across Britain and Europe, people will be preoccupied with a war that was meant to end all other wars, but sadly didn't: World War I. In August 1914, when that war finally broke out after months of brewing, no one could imagine the era of total war that would come, or the effects on the psychology of all the nations which participated.
That is why this war will be commemorated and talked about all throughout 2014. As part of a decade-long revamp, the Imperial War Museum will be opening the next part of its revamp with new galleries dedicated to World War I, the horrors of the trenches and the sadness of what happened. So many men, women and animals died for peace to last only 21 years, until World War II partially eclipsed our memories of "The Great War."
This is a great place to take the whole family and a not-to-be-missed experience, particularly when the shop, atrium and new exhibition spaces open in summer 2014. They'll make the museum full and whole once more.