Friday, September 14, 2012

Imperial War Museum, London

Copyright (c) Imperial War Museum, Catalog No. IWM PST 3108
The Cabinet Room, (c) Imperial War Museum, Photograph Reeve Photography, Cambridge, Limited

The 'Beauty Chorus' - Telephones in the Central Map Room, (c) Imperial War Museum, Photograph Reeve Photography, Cambridge, Limited 

I know I just enthused about Churchill in my last post, but I just can't help writing about him again, specifically about the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London.

I'd last visited the War Rooms about fifteen years ago, and it was the highlight of my London trip then and was so again this time.  Then there wasn't a Churchill Museum in the middle of the whole complex, but now there is, and what an excellent museum it is!

The War Rooms are one of five UK sites that make up the Imperial War Museums (the other four are the HMS Belfast, the IWM London, IWM Duxford, and IWM North in Manchester).   The Cabinet Rooms were a group of underground offices in Whitehall that were the nerve center of Britain's war effort.  Two of the images above -- which I scanned from postcards I bought in the museum shop -- are from the Central Map Room and the Cabinet Room (these are my favorite rooms).  The rooms in the wartime bunker were fully operational on 27 August, 1939, one week before Britain declared war on Germany.  The Cabinet met here 115 times, most often during the Blitz, and the rooms were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August, 1945, when the lights were turned out in the Map Room.  In 1984, the Rooms were opened to the public, and in 2005 the interactive Churchill Museum was opened.

The Humble Pie poster above (which I also scanned from a postcard) is one of a number produced by the British Ministry of Information at the beginning of the Second World War. Probably the most famous poster is the one featuring the phrase, 'Keep Calm and Carry On,' which is now seen everywhere.  I saw a ceramic mug in the Cotswolds with the phrase, 'Now Panic and Freak Out,' which I love and I stupidly didn't buy it (and now wish I had!).  

Lastly, I have just discovered that Gretchen Rubin, author of one of my most favorite books, The Happiness Project (HarperCollins,) also wrote a book entitled Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004).  I can't believe I didn't know about this until now, but I'm going to make up for it by reading it just as soon as I finish Spitalfields Life (more about this book and this London East End neighborhood in an upcoming post).  To quote from the publisher's description of the book, Rubin analyzes contrasting views of Churchill: "he was an alcoholic, he was not; he was an anachronism, he was a visionary; he was a racist; he was a humanitarian; he was the most quotable man in the history of the English language, he was a bore."  I'm anxious to begin reading! 

1 comment:

  1. I had a chance to combine my two loves in life recently and had a two weeks' holiday in wonderful France, to which I had been before, and had loved so much. I took a little Renault rental car and headed off from Paris, to the Palace of Versailles, to Chartres then southward to sunny Provence, via the Auvergne region, with the Songs of the Auvergne playing repeated on the CD player.
    Magnifique, comme toujours. I saw many art galleries and followed the footsteps of artists, like poor Vincent Van Gogh.
    Back home all too soon, I ordered a canvas print from, choosing this painting by C├ęzanne,, to remember my trip by.