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It seems fitting that a museum dedicated to war should be housed in a building once home to a mental hospital (the Bethlem Hospial, or ‘Bedlam’). Founded in 1917, the Imperial War Museum is ‘not a monument to military glory but a record of toil and sacrifice’, just as its original commissioner, Sir Alfred Mond, intended. Telling the story of modern warfare from World War I to present-day conflicts, the collections highlight the tragedies that trail after war like awkward children: destruction, suffering and loss of life. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Many of the objects reflect the hope and spirit engendered by a yearning for peace. Most of all, the displays hammer home the way that history repeats itself – while the technologies and arguments for engaging in war may change, the result is always the same. Here’s our pick of the museum's exhibits.
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