An immersive insight into the world of spies, a film journey to Afghanistan and Pakistan and two photographic displays are among the exhibitions planned when the Imperial War Museum London reopens for the first time in more than six months.
Closed since January 1, the country’s best-known military museum will invite the public back on July 29 following a closure to initiate a transformation which will culminate in a set of new First World War Galleries marking the centenary of the conflict in 2014.
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Work will continue behind the scenes to overhaul the atrium and large object displays. But the reopening is notable for a spy-saturated show, Horrible Histories: Spies, allowing families to try out invisible ink, use fake feet, crack codes and try gadgets, sabotage missions and camouflage.
In the second exhibition, Omer Fast will present his film, 5,000 Thousand Feet is the Best, portraying a former drone operator against the rapidly changing political, ethical and social backdrop of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is the first show in IWM Contemporary, a new arts programme at the museum.
Mike Moore and Lee Craker, whose show opens in October, will offer reportage and photos of American and British soldiers during 21 years in Iraq. A parallel exhibition by photographer and filmmaker Donovan Wylie will survey the personal and environmental impact of military structures.
Some of the large objects visitors are accustomed to seeing, such as aircrafts, tanks and artillery, will remain in storage until next year, with access via a side entrance and the central atrium hidden from view.
Permanent displays such as the Holocaust exhibition and the Family in Wartime sections will return, accompanied by a programme of family activities – many of them spy-related – and a series of talks across the summer and beyond.