Armies are expensive and so are museums devoted to them. Chelsea’s National Army Museum (next to the Royal Hospital) has just reopened after a three-year, £24 million redesign. A huge atrium has been carved out of the middle of the building, and the whole place is much lighter and less gloomy than before. It’s not just a structural redevelopment, though. The new museum reflects the fact that the history and perception of the British Army is always evolving, shifting and being re-understood. As a graph on display reveals, there are fewer people serving in the regular army today than at any time in the last 200 years, yet its media and public profile has maybe never been higher or more discussed. To reflect this, the museum has five new galleries representing different aspects of the boys in green (is that a thing? Maybe not): Soldier, Army, Battle, Society and Insight, plus a brand new Play Base for the under-eights to do a bit of junior square-bashing or whatever. There are now 2,500 objects on display, two-thirds for the first time.
National Army Museum
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