Thursday, February 10, 2011

Imperial War Museum

pow pow pow



So I'll admit, beyond my already well-established nerdiness, I've got an extra fondness for military history and big weapons. I'm probably the biggest wuss possible about violence when push actually comes to shove (I've actually wept over having to kill a fly before) and could never in a million years actually imagine having to fight in a war... but there's still something about big tanks and stories of hardened and totally badass military leaders that I just looove.

(Inner Nerd, rejoice!!!)

When my World War II class got to take a field trip into London to visit the Imperial War Museum, then, you can imagine how excited I was. I ended up having to go by myself on another day because I had tutorial conflicts when everyone else went, but that almost turned out better because I could enjoy everything at my own pace and didn't have to reveal to everyone else in the class how immoderately into it I was. The first room you walk into is a big multi-storied atrium filled with tanks, cannons, and the addictively beautiful silhouettes of fighter planes suspended as if in mid-flight. And the best part? You were allowed to touch them!! You couldn't climb in, of course, but I got to actually put a hand on the tank that carried Monty through El Alamein and on part of a sub that fought in the Battle of the Atlantic. Seriously cool!

(Ahhh lovely)

The basement of the museum was devoted to the two World Wars, and I must say the exhibits were excellent. The biggest problem I have with conceptualizing World War II is understanding how all the varied fronts progressed in relation to one another, and that was something that the museum really helped to clarify. Plus, they had tons of videos and visual material that could give me an image to my otherwise misty knowledge of the Russian and Pacific fronts.

Slightly less cool was the "Blitz Experience," an 'interactive exhibit" that I spent about a half hour waiting for and going through and, by the end, thoroughly wished that I could get that time back. It was like the middle of the EPCOT golf ball: War Version, in that it involved a lot of stage-lit dioramas and voice-over dramatizations. The only moderately exciting element was the "cobbled street" that they had built to lead us around the exhibit that was actually very uneven and, in the dark, offered the real thrill of a twisted ankle. Awesome. There was also a "Trench Experience" for World War I... but I declined.

(Big and Beautiful)

There was also a small art gallery that had a few nice Turners and a really well done Holocaust exhibit that managed to simultaneously fascinate me and deeply, deeply bum me out. After the heaviness of the Holocaust, I went down and played with the tanks for a little while longer, and then (alas!) it was already time to head home. I was supposed to go to Churchill's War Rooms as well, but spent too much time chilling with the heavy artillery - whoops! I'd definitely like to get into London again to see them, because if they're even a fraction as cool as the IWR, then I'll be sold.

(Tubin' it home)

On the current work front, things are right on that exciting cusp between "a lot" and "overwhelming." I never said I didn't like a challenge, so roll the dice, bitches! Let's do this thing.

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