The first phase of a long-term major transformation at the Imperial War Museum in London has been unveiled. The new galleries, centred on a new atrium designed by Foster + Partners, are part of the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
The new public spaces will improve access and circulation through the Museum, open the interiors to daylight and views, and create new connections with the surrounding park.
“The heart of the building is a generous new atrium, which provides a dramatic space in which to view the largest objects from the Museum’s collection.” says Foster + Partners. “The relationship between these exhibits and the surrounding galleries has been completely redefined – the Harrier jet, Spitfire, V2 rocket and other iconic objects are suspended to correspond with the gallery displays on each of the floors for the first time.”
“Viewed from the upper levels, the aircraft are framed by a series of large-scale concrete fins. These fins line the atrium and widen as they rise to provide structural support for the aircraft, extended gallery floors and barrel vaulted roof.”
“Terraces between the fins open up visual connections vertically and across the central space, and a new gallery floor suspended beneath the dome of the roof protects the exhibits from direct sunlight.”
Says Spencer de Grey, Head of Design at Foster + Partners, “Our project for the Imperial War Museum makes an important contribution to our ongoing work in historic buildings. We have peeled away some of the recent additions to celebrate and restore the historic architecture, opening the building up to the park and revealing the gallery levels inside an impressive new hall.”