Auschwitz, part of the current Holocaust exhibition at IWM London

IWM to renew its Holocaust exhibition

Simon Stephens, 16.09.2015
Funding from Pears Foundation kickstarts £15m project
Imperial War Museums (IWM) is to start work on the renewal of its Holocaust exhibition following a £5m grant from the Pears Foundation.

The £15m project, which is expected to be complete in 2021, will be part of the wider development of the IWM London’s second world war galleries.

Diane Lees, the director-general of IWM, said the museum would retain the elements of the Holocaust exhibition that had the most powerful impact on visitors, such as a model depicting the arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But she said the scope of the exhibition will be greatly expanded to include areas such as the role of Britain in terms of its immigration policy, attitudes towards Jewish communities and reporting of the Holocaust. Overall, there will be more links to contemporary issues in the new displays.

IWM’s Holocaust exhibition was built in 2000 and attracts about one million visitors a year. It is likely that the recommendation that the exhibition is for children aged 14 and above will remain.

IWM is also bidding to become the home of the proposed new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre, a government initiative led by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

“We are hugely supportive of the work that the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation is doing,” Lees said. “The reason we are bidding to be the home of the new memorial and learning centre is that we believe that the museum has so much experience in this field and can work with other experts to deliver an excellent educational programme.”

The Pears Foundation, the largest private funder of Holocaust education in the UK, has a long-standing relationship with IWM and provided a £1.75m grant for the London museum’s peace and security galleries in 2013.

“The support of the Pears Foundation shows that we are working with an organisation where we get their aims and they get our aims,” Lees said.

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