WhatMuseums & Galleries
Royal Hospital Rd, Chelsea, London
The National Army Museum has reopened after a £23.75m makeover. The dark, cabinet-filled building adjoining the Royal Hospital, Chelsea has been transformed into an accessible light modern space.
The story of the British Army from the Civil War to the present day is told thematically: there are separate galleries devoted to Soldier, Action, Army, Battle and Society. 'Traditional' museum artefacts are still central to the experience: from a huge regimental flag from 1650, to Wellington's cape and hat and the skeleton of Napoleon's horse at Waterloo, to Kate Adie's flak jacket from Bosnia.
But the museum's aim, to be an 'interactive place of discovery for all the family' so we can better understand what it means to be a soldier and how the history of the armed forces has shaped both our country and the world is brilliantly realised. There are lots of personal testimonies, heaps of interaction - my favourite was the marching in line before a shouting Sergeant Major - and an incredibly moving immersive video compilation of a battle. Plus loads of fascinating trivia. Who knew that Humpty Dumpty was a canon that fell off the wall of Colchester Castle in the Civil War? Or that a WIMP is a whinging, incompetent, malingering person.'
Utterly fascinating. I could have stayed all day.
There is a fab new Play Base for under 7s with an assault course, cook house and Quartermaster store. Entrance is timed in one hour slots and is chargeable (£4.50 p/h)
Easter Holiday workshops are running 1–17 April and include a robotics challenge. Click here for further details.
Royal Hospital Rd, Chelsea, London
020 7730 0717
Tucked down a side street by the British museum, this is a hidden gem.
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