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Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

This image is by Andrew Dunn and is copyright free

Manchester's Imperial War Museum North is northern England's centre for the Imperial War Museum - which includes The Imperial War Museum London, HMS Belfast, the Cabinet War Rooms, and Imperial War Museum Duxford. The Manchester branch was opened in 2002 in a remarkable building by Daniel Libeskind. The building has a very complicated appearance, with sloping walls and ceilings and few coherent lines. It is designed to mimic the disorientation caused by war.

The idea of disorientation is an interesting one when applied to war. In many ways through history people have actually defined and orientated themselves in their conflicts with others. Shakespeare makes the point in his plays about war that countries tend to be most united when faced with an adversary. Often war will start when straight lines are imposed on a world that is intrinsically vague. Hitler, for example, used the ethnic diversity of Europe to find "Germanic" people in Czechoslovakia. He then sent his army to "protect" the "Germans" living there. Hitler must be the supreme example of war arising out of an attempt to find a ludicrous orientation where none exists. The world is disorientated, and looking at Libeskind's building, and seeing the hourly film show of war images in the main hall, maybe we should accept the asymmetric lines of the world more readily. Perhaps Libeskind's building might be said to represent the world at peace rather than at war. As T.E. Lawrence said in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his great book on war, "perhaps in war the absolute did rule, but for peace a majority was good enough" (P194). Whatever your conclusions might be, the Imperial War Museum North is a thought provoking environment.



Opening Times: Please use contact details below.

Address: Imperial War Museum North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ

Directions: The museum is at the Quays in Manchester. Come off the M60 at junction 9. Click here for an interactive map centred on the Imperial War Museum North.

Access: Inspite of the bewildering architecture the site is fully wheelchair accessible. Visitors should note that the floor in the main hall slopes gently in different directions. Six wheelchairs are provided for visitor use, and adapted toilet facilities are available. There are large print copies of the floor plan and events brochure. Assistance dogs are welcome. There are hearing loops in the Watershard Cafe, the information desk, the shop counter and the Learning Studio.


telephone: 0161 836 4000

fax: 0161 836 4012


web site:





©2006 InfoBritain (updated 12/12)