The Duke of Cambridge and David Cameron with Director-General Diane Lees in the IWM's redesigned Atrium (©IWM)

Prince William and David Cameron open Imperial War Museum's new First World War Galleries

Posted on on 18 July 2014
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Prince William and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, have officially opened the new First World War Galleries at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The galleries have been created as part of a £40 million refurbishment of the museum, which reopens to the public on 19th July 2014.

David Cameron hailed the renovated IWM as a 'fitting centrepiece' for the UK's Centenary commemorations.

Over 1,300 objects are on display in the First World War Galleries, the last of them put in place by Prince William and the Prime Minister during their tour with Director-General Diane Lees on 17th July.

The Prince installed the gloves of airman James McCudden VC in the 'Machines Against Men' section. Major McCudden shot down more than five enemy planes and received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest gallantry award. 

Prince William said the opening was a proud moment for him: “These Galleries bring to life the common effort and the common sacrifices of those who lived through the First World War. 

"In 1920, King George V believed this museum would be an inspiration for future generations. I am very pleased to say it is.”

(©IWM/Ella Pellegrini)

Prince William, who holds the royal title of Duke of Cambridge, is Patron of the IWM Foundation which led the fundraising campaign for the First World War Galleries. 

David Cameron installed Pals Battalion badges in the 'Your Country Needs You' section, including that of 17th Service (1st City and Liverpool Pals) King’s Liverpool Regiment Badge – the badge of the first ‘Pals’ battalion formed on 28th August 1914.

IWM’s Young Reporters and Youth Panel met the Prince and Prime Minister to demonstrate some of the galleries' interactive features.

They also discussed a letter written during the war by nine-year-old Alfie Knight, asking War Minister Lord Kitchener if he could sign up, and heard about Tirpitz – a pig rescued by British sailors when the German cruiser Dresden was sunk off Chile.  

Speaking at the event, David Cameron said: “This wonderful museum succeeds in making this war relevant 100 years on - a national focal point in which we can all take pride and which connects the past with the present to ensure we never forget those who lost their lives to secure our freedom.”

The new First World War Galleries are part of the wider transformation of IWM London, which includes a newly configured Atrium with large object displays, and a number of new exhibitions, public spaces, shops and cafes. 

The £40 million project has been made possible with the support of a number of funders, sponsors, trusts, foundations and individuals, including grants of £6.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £5 million from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Source: Imperial War Museum

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museum

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News