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IWM "one of the finest museums in the world" says prime minister

"This is, I think, a very exciting time for one of the finest museums in the world," said prime minister David Cameron as he announced further government funding of £5 million for the redevelopment of the Imperial War Museum.

Mr Cameron visited the museum last Friday to announce plans for the nation's commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 2014.

"I will never forget when my mother brought me here as a boy and being absolutely captivated by everything within the museum," he said.

"But almost more interesting was bringing my own children here, quite recently, they’ve come twice, I think, altogether.

"And realising that even when I was a boy there were still people alive who had fought in the Great War. There aren’t now, but my children were just as captivated and interested as I was. I think that speaks volumes about what we are discussing today."

The IWM is currently winding down its displays as it prepares to close its doors for the first half of 2013 to allow major works to take place.

"The completion of transforming IWM London will see the Imperial War Museum reopened as the centrepiece of our commemorations for the centenary of the First World War," said the PM.

"With that transformation, new generations will be inspired by the incredible stories of courage, toil and sacrifice that have brought so many of us here over the past century.

"From the breathtaking sights of the hanging gallery to the unforgettable smell of the trenches, from great art – like this painting of The Menin Road by Paul Nash – to the many moving stories recorded from the front line, the Imperial War Museum is not just a great place to bring your children – as I said, as I’ve done – it is actually a special place for us all to come, to learn about a defining part of our history and to remember the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives for us, from the First World War to the present day."

Mr Cameron also signalled his enduring support for free admission to Britain's national museums – a policy introduced by the last Labour government.

"I passionately believe we should hold on to this heritage and pass it down the generations," he said. "That is why, even in difficult economic times, we are right to maintain free entry to national museums like this. It is why we will continue to do so."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has previously floated the idea of a voluntary admission fee for museums.

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