A Visit at the Recycling of War Artefacts Museum

August 7th, 2019 by Diana Coman

His name was H. and he was made to fly. H. flew sometimes for fun, sometimes for duty and nobody really stopped to separate the two - how did it matter whether or when it was one or the other, anyway? After all, H. had made loops in the air when followed by the eyes of children waving flags but also when trying to avoid a quite different type of followers. In between flights though, there was also a lot of travel on land and on sea, chasing the next possibility to fly and getting in the process a lot of markings from all the travel and from all the chasing. But it was in the end a simple fire after taxying that kept Harrier ZD4611 down long enough for it to be declared the past and rather than repaired, just hung on ropes at the museum, in a bit of a mixed-up exhibition, next to a bomb of previous times:

A WW2 bomb next to a Harrier plane active from 1990 to 2010.

A WW2 bomb next to a Harrier plane active from 1990 to 2010.

We visited the Imperial War Museum in London (IWR) at the end of June this year but I never bothered to write down anything about it - it's a bit of a mix really with some interesting bits (there are Robert Capa's photos taken during the landing of American troops on the beach in Normandy on 6th June 1944; there are also regular events with WW2 veterans - at times and depending on your luck, you might get a glimpse of what they made of it), some reasonable parts (I hadn't seen the insides of a bomb before) and some terribly propagandistic stuff - at times the three are even mixed, what can you do. As I was clearing up my old camera today, the few pictures I took at the time (and promptly forgot about) came to light and so here's the entrance too, from the only awkward angle I could find at the time to avoid having some t-shirt clad icecream eater in the picture:

Barrels of 2 naval guns stranded on land in front of the former-hospital that is now the Imperial War Museum in London.

Barrels of 2 naval guns stranded on land in front of the former-hospital that is now the Imperial War Museum in London.

The entrance though is quite representative of the whole place - it makes me think more of recycling and propagandistic posing than of war itself (then again, everything is indeed forever recycled and arguably propaganda of one sort or another too). The building itself is a former hospital that recycled in the 19th century the Ionic for its columns. The two guns pointing away from it are barrels of naval guns taken from 2 different ships - the link being that both shot at least once during WW2. The shells are planted in neat rows for framing the picture I suppose and serve inevitably as climbing/sitting places for bored children. Mine liked at least the guns (they are BIG) but wasn't impressed by the shells (why are they yellow?). He liked the aeroplanes inside but that's be default currently - if it's an aeroplane, then and therefore it is interesting. And he listened politely to the old man telling his story of what it was like living as a child in London during the war, bombings and deaths and then evacuation and all. After which he raised his hand and waited his turn and asked of course about the one thing that was indeed most interesting from his point of view: *what* was inside this bomb exactly and *how* did it work?

  1. According to the Imperial War Museum docs, the plane is a vertical/short take-off and landing jet aircraft constructed in 1989, used in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan and retired in 2010. 

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9 Responses to “A Visit at the Recycling of War Artefacts Museum”

  1. BingoBoingo says:

    It's good to see the kid knows to ask the useful question.

  2. Diana Coman says:

    There is an amount of healthy curiosity I'd say (and the taking apart of things is... familiar to me, ahem).

  3. As the butade goes, need not worry while taking bomb apart ; worry only once starts to put bomb together.

    (In orginal :
    "D-le doctor, aud voci. E grav ?"
    "Nu e grav."
    "Cind devine grav ?"
    "Cind incepeti sa le raspundeti.")

  4. There is a museum rather like this in Wash. DC. Recently went, and found that my childhood favourite exhibit has gone missing...

  5. Diana Coman says:

    @Mircea Popescu Heh, as by then it's too late to worry anyway, can just skip worrying altogether!

    @Stanislav Datskovskiy Actually for the realistic part there are way better "war museums" in Belarus, as recent rummage through archives reminded me - there they just have the machines on a field and the trenches nearby and even some guns for kids to have a go with and that's the museum. Come to think of it, I guess I'll soon have to take him there too, huh. (The archive is older than the kid.)

  6. @Diana Coman : I much prefer the Sov-style museums, we had exactly one like that in Odessa -- field with machines and meticulously maintained trenches.

    Grandfather: "be quiet, that there's an acoustic mine!" 5yo me: ""

  7. Diana Coman says:

    Ahahaha, maybe with *that* I have a chance of keeping him quiet when he's just with me. Great idea your grandfather had there!

  8. You know, they really should make these ~operable~. Big fucking whoop, fence in an area, limit the bearings, let kids fire flashbangs for 20 a apop or w/e.

  9. Diana Coman says:

    Yes, that's precisely why I said they had better museums in Belarus - there was this one open-air place where kids could at least actually shoot (at some targets too) with one of the guns in there. Granted, none of the *other* things were operable but at least they were approachable i.e. could climb on some of them, could go through the trenches.

    As an aside, it's probably no surprise for anyone but still glaring that in all other museums around here there are loads of interactive this and that except in the above museum - no interactive fly a plane, no interactive shoot a gun.

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