on November 28, 2012
As many times as I've been to Manchester, I've never been to the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays. It was time to rectify that. The museum has been open for about 10 years and is located in the Salford Quays development, across a footbridge from the Lowry theatre but you can get to it by road as well. The modern building looks over the Ship Canal and has a viewing platform that you can pay a couple of pounds and go up. The platform is enclosed by the tower structure but it's not weather-proof. It's like viewing from a fenced in area so it can be a bit chilly. The musuem is not large and is an open concept with some smaller cubbyhole type areas for specific displays. The theme is the 20th century and covers war from WWI to the present day. There are vehicles and artifacts and a lot of memorabilia donated by military members over the years. They have letters and audio and video as well. When we were there, they showed a video presentation on all the walls around us and it was chilling to see the Nazi flags and images so large, filling the room for a few minutes. The presentation was about how war affected the lives of children and was narrated by actors, children and probably even some people who were telling their own memories and stories. There were quite a few groups of schoolchildren there that day as well. The stories were very moving. This "Children and War" is part of a three-video presentation called the Big Picture Show that has won awards and rightly so. There are sections about women at war, the British colonies at war, nuclear age, etc. You can do research there as well. When you first enter you are presented with a full sized Harrier jump jet hanging from the ceiling and a modern cross-shaped white sculpture interpreting the artist's view of war, it's called The Crusader and while i don't usually take to modern art, it was very good. Other vehicles on display include a firefighting odd looking thing that was used in Manchester during the Blitz and the pod of a fighter plane where the gunner would sit. It looks very tiny considering. One display that gave us both shivers were two pieces of twisted, rusted metal. One was the remains of a car that had contained a bomb and the other, a taller piece, was the twisted remains of a window framing from the World Trade Centre. The museum is fully accessible with a lift and accessible toilets. The gift shop is decent and the cafe is a good size. They are open every day until 5. You can get the Metrolink tram to one of two stops across the canal, MediaCityUK or Harbour City and walk over the footbridge. The museum is free but you have to pay for parking if you have your vehicle.
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