RogerBW's Blog

IWM North 30 March 2016

As I was in Manchester over Easter, I visited the IWM North, the only one of the five IWM sites I hadn't been to. It was a bit of a disappointment. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

(Incidentally, all photos here were taken with the Panasonic Lumix GF1 I recently bought second-hand from a friend. It's a lovely piece of kit, a slight upgrade over my Pentax K10D and, as you'll see, with much better low-light performance.)

I see basically two approaches to museum design: lots of glass cases with the actual original (whatever), or lots of buttons and interactive video to engage people who don't know much about the subject. I tend to feel that buttons and interactive video can be done just as well on-line.

The IWM North takes a middle ground: there's a fair old bit of interactive video, but they also have glass cases with artefacts related to a particular subject (as it might be, "things soldiers make while they're not fighting"). The overall theme is "the impact of modern conflicts on people and society"; there's not much here from before the Great War, and that and WWII get the most attention.

There is also abstract sculpture.

This was a 3.2-second hand-held exposure. You know, I think this image stabilisation thing might actually work a bit.

(Though why they feel the need to keep everything in dimness is not at all clear. Sure, some artefacts get damaged by bright lights, but the main IWM in London is nothing like this dark.)

A rare naval flamethrower, fitted aboard HMS Vindictive for the Zeebrugge Raid of 1918.

Early airborne wireless transmitter.

Vivat ribbons of the Great War.

Various small-arms, same period.

But in the end we didn't really feel much enthusiasm for continuing with WWII and later; yes, it's a whole heap of Not Fun to be involved in or affected by war, we get it, and if that's all you have to say you don't need another hour of my time to say it to me. While there are some interesting items here, I'd have to say this one isn't worth the trip even if you're already in Manchester.


  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 08:55pm on 31 March 2016

    Ah, that's worth knowing. Have considered going there with Hairy Brother, should he ever tire of visiting Bovington on his forays south. Sounds like biting the bullet and braving London for their IWM might be a better bet.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 09:03pm on 31 March 2016

    There may be something about it I didn't get. But given a choice between the two, I'd definitely go for London. (The first time I went there as a grown-up, I saw all the vehicles and things in the main hall and thought "is that it"… and as I was about to leave found the well-concealed entrance to the basement, where all the nifty stuff in glass cases lives.)

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:22am on 02 April 2016

    I had a similar experience in the London IWM. Looked around a bit, about to get bored, hang on a minute I need the loo I wonder if it's down here, oh look I've found the rest of the museum, I wonder if the staff know it's down here?

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