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Imperial War Museum North


Imperial War Museum North (sometimes referred to as IWM North) is a museum in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, England. One of five branches of the Imperial War Museum, it explores the impact of modern conflicts on people and society. It is the first branch of the Imperial War Museum to be located in the north of England. The museum occupies a site overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford Park, an area which during the Second World War was a key industrial centre and consequently heavily bombed during the Manchester Blitz in 1940. The area is now home to the Lowry cultural centre and the MediaCityUK development, which stand opposite the museum at Salford Quays.

During the 1990s, the Imperial War Museum sought to open a branch in the north of England. Seventy-one sites were offered for consideration by 36 local councils. One such council was that of Hartlepool, in County Durham, for whom a new museum building was designed by architect Sir Norman Foster for a site on Hartlepool's dockside. In 1992 the Teesside Development Corporation offered the museum, on behalf of Hartlepool council, a total of 14.4 million towards construction and running costs. However, the National Audit Office later reported that the Corporation's offer breached government rules and negotiations were abandoned.

In addition to the physical exhibits, the walls of the gallery space are used as screens for the projection of hourly audiovisual presentations called the Big Picture, which explore themes related to modern conflict. These presentations use up to 1,500 images from the Imperial War Museum's photograph archive and were originally projected from 60 synchronised slide projectors mounted throughout the space. In 2011 digital projectors were installed, allowing a greater degree of flexibility. The images are complemented by personal accounts from the museum's oral history sound archive. The Big Picture was devised after the reduction in the museum's budget forced the scrapping of the previous exhibition plan by designers DEGW and Amalgam.

Outside the museum building, an ex-Iraqi Army T-55 tank was put on display at the main entrance in August 2008. This vehicle was captured by the Royal Engineers during the opening stages of the Iraq War in 2003. The spot had previously been occupied by an Iraqi ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft gun. Captured by the Royal Artillery after the 1991 Gulf War, it was moved from Imperial War Museum Duxford and displayed to mark the museum's fifth anniversary in July 2007.

The museum enjoyed a successful first year, with an initial target of 300,000 visitors surpassed after six months, with over 100,000 visitors in the first six weeks; by the museum's first anniversary on 5 July 2003 some 470,000 visitors had been received. The museum won the Building Award in the 2003 British Construction Industry Awards, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Stirling Prize. The museum received a largely positive critical reception, with reviewers remarking on the metaphorical power of the building, the complementary effects of the museum's main exhibition with its internal architecture, and the economy with which the museum was built. In August 2005 Imperial War Museum North received its millionth visitor. The museum was, however, criticised in 2008 by The Guardian for poor energy efficiency, as part of a report into the carbon dioxide emissions of UK public buildings.

Supporting Imperial War Museum North's educational goals, the museum has operated a volunteer programme since opening in 2002. The programme seeks to engage local people at risk of social exclusion. Originally based on a National Vocational Qualification, the programme was revised and relaunched in 2004, and consisted of a basic cultural heritage course, providing opportunities to develop academic skills and improve confidence, and to support individuals seeking to return to employment. In return volunteers work in the museum's public spaces as part of the front of house teams. In January 2007 the museum launched the in Touch volunteer programme, in partnership with Manchester Museum and supported by 425,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The programme was recognised by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as a case study of its kind, in the department's Third Sector Strategy.

Missouri Civil War Museum