From the stunning, aluminium-clad building sporting splendid views over The Quays, to the Big Picture Show, a bold 360-degree light and sound display – a trip to the Libeskind-designed Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) may bring on a sensory overload!
Outside the museum sits a Russian tank captured from Iraqi forces in 2003. Once through the doors, there’s a wealth of historical objects to study. Of most interest to me was the field gun that fired the British Army’s first shell of World War I near Binche in Belgium and the enormous, seven-metre twisted section of steel, wreckage of the World Trade Centre from 9/11. It is truly sobering.
IWMN is a social history museum showing how war has shaped people’s lives. As well as large exhibits on display, don’t forget to look through the small, personal items as they’re equally fascinating.
For older children, various Action Stations inspire a more in-depth look at history. These encourage families to dress up – maybe you’re in camouflage or perhaps you’re getting ready for evacuation. Also, there are Time Stack sessions running for 20 minutes at 12.30pm most days where you can handle artefacts and learn the individual stories behind them. There’s plenty of activities and space for little ones to run around plus there’s often story-telling under the Harrier Jet.
We enjoyed lunch at the WaterShard Café, where despite the views my boys were more interested in the football table. At least it kept them amused long enough for us to have a coffee after lunch!
The IWMN always holds lots of fantastic events and temporary exhibitions throughout the year so do check the website for the latest information. Every weekday (11am) and weekends plus school holidays (11am & 2pm) The Big Picture Show screens Rotten Rationing, specially created by the Horrible Histories team, a must-see for HH fans! If you’ve got time and you’re not scared of heights then before you leave, take a run up the 180 steps to the 55m-high Air Shard complete with viewing platform.Daily 10am-5pm. Admission free. Car Park 0-3hrs £4. Air Shard: Adults £1.20, Child 60p. IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ Tel: 0161 836 4000 iwm.org.uk