Visualising War and Peace

Re-presenting well-known conflicts at the Imperial War Museums: World War II and the Holocaust

October 20, 2021 The University of St Andrews Season 1 Episode 32
Visualising War and Peace
Re-presenting well-known conflicts at the Imperial War Museums: World War II and the Holocaust
Show Notes

This week Alice and Nicolas return to the Imperial War Museum, with the second episode of our mini-series on the recently redesigned WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries. Last episode focussed on the WWI Galleries; in this episode we take a closer look at the WWII and Holocaust Galleries, which open to the public on the 20th of October. 

Among our guests we welcome back Vikki Hawkins and Kate Clements, the curators of the WWII Galleries; and we also have with us James Bulgin, the content lead for the Holocaust Gallery. They give us exclusive and in-depth insight into the design and aims of the galleries, the planning process, and the spectacular and often poignant objects which visitors are able to see and experience  first hand, many for the very first time, from the UK and all over the world. 

Among other topics, we discuss 

  • how our ways of visualising WWII and the Holocaust have changed over the past decades and how those changes are reflected in the design of the galleries 
  • what sorts of objects are visible at the galleries and what kinds of stories these objects can tell us 
  • wide-spread myths about WWII and the Holocaust which the new galleries seek to challenge 
  • the responsibilities involved in visualising such highly sensitive topics as the WWII and the Holocaust, and what effect the stories we tell about these events have had and might have on us 
  • the challenges involved in presenting a global conflict in all its diversity, while making ample room for the many personal voices from all over the world to be heard 
  • ways to make objects tell those personal stories and prompt us to engage into a dialogue with them and - through them - with each other 
  • James’, Vikki’s and Kate’s favourite objects, and 
  • how the WWII and Holocaust Galleries fit into the IWM’s representation of war and conflict more broadly 

We hope you enjoy the episode! 
Listeners who want to see some of the objects mentioned by Kate and Vikki can read about them in this blog. For a version of our podcast with close captions, please listen here. Also, if you haven't heard it already don't forget to check out the first episode of this two-part mini series, in which we discuss the IWM’s recently redesigned WWI Galleries.

To find out more about the WWI, WWII and Holocaust Galleries, do visit the website of the Imperial War Museum. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the richly illustrated book accompanying the opening of the WWII Gallery and co-authored by our guests Vikki and Kate as well as Paul Cornish, with a foreword by Margaret MacMillan:Total War. A People's History of World War II (Thames&Hudson). James Bulgin has also written a brand new book on the Holocaust, featuring many personal stories and objects - it is available as an audiobook here.

For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.  

Music composed by Jonathan Young 
 Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin