Manchester’s Imperial War Museum North will rivet even those with nary a skerrick of interest in military history. A strikingly unusual aluminium-clad structure designed by architect Daniel Libeskind houses this fascinating museum. The building represents a shattered globe – its three fragments symbolising the effects of war across the land, sea and air.
Adding to the unique experience is the fact that Libeskind intentionally designed the building to be confusing and disorienting to navigate so that visitors would gain a deeper sense of the unsettling effects of war. If you direct your attention to the floor of the Main Exhibition Space, you’ll notice that the floor isn’t flat – it actually slopes down nearly 2.5 metres, further altering your perspective as you journey through history.
The Main Exhibition Space relays in timeline form Britain’s and the Commonwealth’s involvement in conflicts since World War I. There is much to absorb here, from personal stories as told by those directly affected by war to the role of women, science and technology in wartime. The Big Picture Show exhibition activates your senses (and emotions) with surround sound, moving images and historic photographs, projected on the walls and towering above you at more than eight metres.
Visitors can also delight in scaling the magnificent AirShard (for a small fee) to the viewing platform 30 metres above ground and take in some of the best views of Manchester. The Imperial War Museum North is open every day, including bank holidays, from 10am to 5pm (last entry is at 4:30pm). The only days it’s closed are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The nearest Metrolink tram stations are MediaCityUK and Harbour City. Trams depart from Manchester Piccadilly, Deansgate–Castlefield and St Peter's Square. To arrive by bus, take the X50 from Manchester Piccadilly station.