Simplicity, accessibility and distinctiveness are key elements of a successful museum website. The Imperial War Museum website illustrates all of these attributes. The IWM consists of five museums: the IWM of London; the IWM of Manchester; IWM of Cambridgeshire; The Churchill War Rooms of Whitehall; and HMS Belfast, situated on the Thames River in London. Together, these five museum websites offer a wealth of information on the British war effort during the 20th century. As a result, the viewer of the website is left with an incredible amount of information about British warfare, from British strategy to tools of war used to defend itself.
The IWM website’s ease of use is arguably its greatest feature. The home page of the IWM gives the viewer information on what the museums offer, including how to take advantage of tours and how to make a donation. Also, general information about them is presented, from the price of admittance to the types of artifacts currently exhibited at the museums. For teachers, historical notes for World War I and II are provided, giving educators an overview of key themes and concepts on British warfare.
Visual imagery within the website is another great characteristic. Winston Churchill War Rooms, one of the five IWM museum websites, highlights this point. While a number of different mediums are used, video clips are the most effective means used to convey the experiences of the Prime Minister during the war. The map room, communication center, Churchill’s war cabinet room and his personal bedroom are exhibited within them. A video by Director Phil Reed of the Winston Churchill War Rooms emphasizes this point. In the communication room, Reed highlights a speech Winston Churchill gave on September 11, 1940 that galvanized the British people to fight against Germany. From his communications room, Churchill stated to the British people “This man Hitler is trying to terrorize our nation. The old and new world, the British and Americans, are going to get together and sort him out.” These videos enable the viewer to appreciate more intimately the experience of Winston Churchill orchestrating the British war effort from below. More importantly, these words, coupled with images of the desk and chair that Churchill used to give this inspiring speech, reaffirms the historical significance of Winston Churchill’s leadership during England’s darkest hour.
Lastly, the IWM at Duxford website not only provides amazing visual imagery, but is also packed with mesmerizing paintings and intriguing artifacts from the war. Royal Air Force’s contribution to the war effort is highlighted in a number of unique ways within the website. Paintings such as Leslie Cole’s Malta: Fighters take off from Luca’s bombed runaway underscores the noteworthy contribution they made to the war effort. Items like the Hurricane Rolls Royce Piston Aero Engine demonstrates the craftsmanship developed by British engineers. These historical objects reveal British determination to defend itself at all cost.
So, even if you do not make it to the Imperial War Museum, you owe it to your self to check out this fascinating website. In doing so, you will be left with an inspiring story of British ingenuity, courage and resourcefulness in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.