Imperial War Museums (IWM) is to open its new war-focussed art galleries in November at Imperial War Museum London, it has announced.

The permanent galleries are said to be the UK’s first to “explore how artists, photographers and filmmakers together bear witness to, document and tell the story of conflict, and the public’s understanding of war”.

The Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries will open at IWM London on 10 November 2023, ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

The Galleries will include around 500 works from IWM’s collection, which includes over 23,000 hours of footage and over 12 million photographs.

More contemporary works will include John Singer Sargent’s painting Gassed, Steve McQueen’s response to the 2003 war in Iraq, Queen and Country, and works by artists including Paul Nash, Laura Knight and Rosalind Nashashib. Displays include work filmmakers including Peter Jackson, Geoffrey Malins and Omer Fast.

Paul Seawright’s Mounds, commissioned by IWM in 2002 to respond to the war in Afghanistan, and photographs from John Keane who recorded the war in Iraq in 1991 are also included.

The galleries will include a dedicated Screening Space, showcasing a programme of IWM’s historical film collection, including war epic The German Retreat and Battle of Arras, which has been recently restored by IWM in collaboration with the University of Udine.

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The Introduction Gallery (IWM)

Caro Howell MBE, Director-General of Imperial War Museums, said: “Artists, filmmakers and photographers are eyewitnesses, participants and commentators on conflict. Their work provides critical insight and perspective, while also having the power to deeply move us.

“Within these Galleries visitors can explore the ways in which art, film and photography shape, challenge and deepen our understanding of war and conflict.”

Sir Leonard Blavatnik, founder of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the predominant funder of the project, added: “I have long taken an interest in the history of conflict and the experience of those who suffer its impact. I am proud that my Family Foundation has supported this new initiative at the Museum, which confirms its pre-eminence in the field.”

A series of spaces further explore how artists, filmmakers and photographers have been driven to respond to and record conflict. For the first time, these galleries will be presented thematically – a significant change from other major galleries at IWM London.

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