Blitzed Brits Exhibition Imperial War Museum North
Before I caught the travel bug, history was my first love. Growing up, I lived next door to the loveliest, retired couple you can imagine. They had lived through the second world war and they had so many stories to tell and share. We used to welcomed round with open arms for a chat and it was like having my own history lesson and Jack was a story teller like no other. The Blitz always intrigued me and having studied history was one of the topics that really left an impression. 75 years have now passed since the Blitzkrieg brought the war to the doorsteps of Britain and the ramifications of war affected a whole nation from children to adults alike. We were invited by the Imperial War Museum North to come and explore their new Blitz exhibition and I couldn’t wait to show my little adventurers a part of history that I love. We visited on the day the exhibition opened with our three adventurers and my 9 year old nephew.
The Imperial War Museum North is located in Salford Quays and is a strikingly beautiful building. The museum is located on the other side of the quay from The Lowry and has been on my list to take the little adventurers to for a number of months. The Blitzed Brits exhibition sees the Imperial War Museum team up with Horrible Histories series and in keeping with the series ethos employs a number of ways to make history both memorable and entertaining for the younger generation. I love the series and love that it has been a great success in getting the young generation again excited about history. The exhibition has the character Rattus showcasing various aspects of the Blitz to visitors. I love that the entrance to the museum and exhibition is free which is fantastic as it is a wealth of knowledge and opportunity for people from all walks of life.
The exhibition was opened on the 8th July and will be open to the public until April 2016. We though that the Blitzed Brits was a truly magnificent exhibition being a real hands on exhibition for children of all ages and providing so much learning opportunities. On arrival at the exhibition you are greeted with a number of facts and figures about the the Blitz and my nephew who loves learning facts so he was devouring them all. The first stop of the exhibition is the stand with a number of survival guides. The children are able to take a copy each and the booklet tasks the children on a search to obtain information to fill in the blanks. We thought that the booklets were a great idea as they have lots of mini tasks for the children to keep an eye out for and means that they really paid attention to what they are seeing and reading in order for them to be able to answer the questions. A completed booklet at the end of the exhibition could be taken to the food area and a free cordial drink would be the prize awaiting all the conscientious amongst us.
The exhibition is a walk way through the whole range of events and things which the nation of Britain had to endure during the Blitz. The exhibition covered aspects from the food rationing to the blackout to the lives and effects for the evacuees and really provided an insight to what life would have been for those living through this difficult and treacherous period of history. For me, having children that cross such an age range it is often difficult to find activities which have them all stimulated and having a good time. This exhibition has a great mix and as it is so hands on, that even the youngest of adventurers can have a try on most things whilst the older children will enjoy the finer details that the exhibition allows. I also loved that the museum have a real mix of all different modes of children getting involved with modern high tech games, to torches to see in the blackout to a cycle!
In addition to the activities and artefacts the museum also have a number of additional activities around the exhibition. We attended the story time at 11am which was a great insight to the live of the Air Raid worker and their family. The children loved the story and we were really impressed with the story teller. The story teller was really good at making the children engage with the story and had little props like the dolls and pictures/books to pass around so the children could remember the story. Throughout the summer months, there are a number of additional activities that the museum are running and they sound such good fun. Further details can be found here.
We had a fantastic day at the exhibition and our favourite parts of the exhibition were:
1. the dressing up, we are family of dresser uppers and its a great way to teach and impart information to younger children. They may not remember the paragraphs of information that they read but they will remember the outfits that they tried.
2. Milking the cow, this really hit home for me as the stool that they had on display was the same as we have in our house in Pakistan and highlighted that the lives of the evacuees and those across the world were very similar. I think it was great for the children to have a try at something that they would never otherwise try (I know its not a real cow by the way 🙂
3. The bicycle test to see if you were faster then the pigeons was great fun! I can personally vouch that it is hard work pedalling that fast and my thighs were aching for a while later!
4. The blackout room was really awesome and was Zayn’s favourite room as he loved to go into the pitch black and use the UV torch. I think this room is one of the examples of how history can really be brought to life. You hear about the “blackout” but don’t really comprehend just how dark it was and I think it is really important that youngsters have a chance to see this first hand
I could carry on with the things that there is to see and do. I cannot recommend the exhibition highly enough, it is one of the most child focused and friendly exhibitions that I have been too. The Blitz is a really interesting topic of history and this exhibition is a really fun way of teaching our youngsters about it.
Next door to the exhibition, visitors are able to see the normal exhibits that are housed in the museum. There is a very interesting collection from fighter planes to part of the building from the World Trade Centre. In comparison to the Blitz Brits exhibition, I found this side of the museum aimed at older children so would recommend it for children at least 5 years old plus. That said, Zayn loved seeing the plane and the cars (though he did try to clamber on to them all!) so the younger children will enjoy it but they will expect it to be as hands on as the exhibit next door and will find it difficult to remember not to touch these exhibits! We will definitely return to spend more time in the actual normal museum.
My nephew had visited the museum with school and had been raving about the AirShard. The AirShard sees you taking up the lift to 100ft in the sky and have a birds eye view of the Quays. The little adventurers enjoyed the ride up and I was a little freaked out by the meshed walkway, the little adventurers didn’t bat an eyelid. The view from the AirShard is lovely and you can see the skyline of Manchester including The Lowry and Media City. The AirShard is chargeable but at £1.20 it is very reasonable.
We would highly recommend the Blitzed Brits exhibition to everyone, even those with toddlers. There is lots of children to see and do and it is hands on history at its very best. With the start of the school holidays, there is no better time to plan a day trip to this fantastic museum. Have you been to see the exhibition? We would love to hear what you thought!