The Imperial War Museum (IWM) has been undergoing considerable refurbishment work as of late, leaving it temporarily closed to the public for the past few months. However, history buffs who’ve booked hotel accommodation in London this summer will be pleased to hear that it reopens this month for a very special new exhibition.
Entitled Architecture of War, the show comprises paintings, drawings and photographs that span almost a century of British art – right from the beginning of the first world war to the present day.
Art isn’t always associated with the IWM – it’s better known for housing vehicles, weapons and other historical items – so organisers hope this new exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to familiarise themselves with another part of its archive.
“Architecture of War represents a new approach to displaying diverse works from IWM’s art collection. I hope that visitors will find the exhibition visually stimulating as well as an inspiring introduction to the art collection,” says curator Claire Brenard.
The artworks are divided into four themes – construction, destruction, city life and interiors. Paintings and photographs by independent artists and journalists will hang alongside those specially commissioned by organisations like the Ministry of Information and the War Artists’ Advisory Committee – so exhibition-goers can expect a handful of different perspectives on armed conflict.
Among the oldest works on display is Making the Engine, a 1917 painting by CRW Nevinson. Depicting industrious factory workers, it shows how for a time the prospect of mechanical war machines was once a matter of excitement and optimism.
Elsewhere, exhibits demontrate how conflict has changed the face of cities – whether by devastating them or giving rise to oppressive new structures like the Berlin Wall, which appears in a drawing by Paul Hogarth from 1981.
More recent struggles are represented in photojournalism from the likes of Angus Boulton and Paul Seawright. The latter went to Afghanistan in 2002 after having been commissioned to do so by the IWM; his photographs include Room 1, a chilling image of a deserted Taliban barracks.
The exhibition kicks off on July 29th and will run until May 5th 2014.