Thursday, February 10, 2011

Imperial War Museum

A visit to the Imperial War Museum: a class assignment admittedly, but we quickly discovered that this place basically rocks--one of the best museums in London. If you ever find yourself in London for some reason, you have to take some time to visit this place, it's incredible. I don't know why I grew up thinking that museums were so boring, because the ones I've experienced here in London are far from such things.

We of course spent most of our time in the World War I exhibits: my favorite was learning about the Christmas Truce of 1914. This was the first Christmas of the Great War, during which there was a spontaneous unofficial truce. British and German soldiers put down their weapons and sang carols to each other, hanging out together in No Man's Land. By the next Christmas they had strict rules about such socializing, but for this one there was peace on earth and whatnot. It was very touching.

We also got to go "into the trenches." One of the exhibits was a reconstruction of what the trenches would have been like; it was like a haunted house ride. It smelled absolutely horrible, it was dark and we could barely see each other, and there were bloody bodies (fake of course, but that didn't help much), barbed wire, air bombing from above, all sorts of crazy things. I don't know how authentic it really was, but for us it felt a little too real. I was horrified by the time we found the exit (we were slightly worried we weren't ever going to make it out!), but it was a neat experience for sure.
We also saw Lawrence of Arabia's motorcycle--the real Lawrence, not the movie one--it's a 1000cc Brough Superior, tailor-made by George Brough himself. It was the bike he was riding when he was killed. How tragic! He made it through all of those battles in the war, only to be killed while swerving to avoid hitting two errand boys (he pitched over the handlebars and landed head first on the ground).
What an amazing museum.

No comments: