Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum

By Justin Cohen, News editor, Jewish News 

The Imperial War Museum today set it’s sights on being the home of the new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre as it announced work will begin on a major upgrade of its Shoah exhibition.

A £5m gift from the Pears Foundation will kick-off the renewal of the exhibition, which was built in 2000 and attracts around one million visitors each year.

Costing a total of £15m and expected to open to the public in 2021, the project will see an increase in survivor testimonies, along with a breadth of objects and original material that “will help audiences consider the cause, course and consequences of this seminal period in world history”.

The museum has also become the first site to announce a bid to be the site of the new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre – the flagship recommendations of David Cameron’s Holocaust commission. Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, kicked off the search for a suitable central London site during this week’s HET dinner.

Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums, said: “I am immensely grateful to Pears Foundation for their £5 million gift which will enable the work on the transformation of the Holocaust Exhibition and additional fundraising to begin.

“We are hugely supportive of the initiatives laid out by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and wish to play our part to ensure that Britain has a permanent fitting memorial and meaningful educational resources for generations. IWM provides the right context and expertise for this important work.”

Trevor Pears, Executive Chair of Pears Foundation, said: “Our family is delighted to be supporting this important project. We strongly believe that the refurbishment of the Holocaust Exhibition at IWM London has the potential to be of ground-breaking importance in the way the Holocaust is taught, contextualised and understood, both nationally and internationally.

The Foundation is the largest private contributor to Holocaust education in the UK, having contributed around £10m to a host of projects.