Saturday, February 22, 2020

National Army Museum

London The Unfinished City
Napoleon's horse, Marengo, with a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Friday February 21, 2020

As the schools were closed and I had the day off from work, I decided to take Erin and Keilyn to the Unfinished City, and maybe check out a museum.

We boarded the usual Metropolitan line train and disembarked at Baker Street, where we caught a Circle line train. Our idea was to alight at South Kensington, which was the closest station to the Science and Natural History museums. However, as we pulled into the station, we noticed that it was full of parents and children, obviously having decided to check out the museums, too. So, we stayed on the train and got off at Sloane Square, which was deserted.

A short walk down Sloane Gardens brought us to Royal Hospital Road, where we took a right and ended up at the National Army Museum. 

My girls, always looking for something new, couldn't wait to get inside.

The entrance atrium was spacious and, as with the rest of the museum, was remarkably empty, allowing us to take our time looking at the exhibits. 

There were interactive video displays, where you were inspected on your sentry duties, mock up wooden weapons that you had to disassemble and then reassemble, as fast as you could. Kit bags needed to be filled correctly and the turret on a tank needed to be manned, while someone else used the machine gun to attack a video enemy. There was a drum that you could practise with and an interactive music archive, where you could listen to songs. For the girls, dressing up as a Guard, in front of a sentry box, was a highlight.

We spent almost two hours exploring every aspect of the museum, which was wonderfully laid out and led you on a history of the British Army, in a historical route.

Before we left we visited the gift shop, where Erin and Keilyn purchased pencils, notebooks and the like, before we made our way slowly back towards the station. We stopped for a bite to eat, before catching our train home, on what was one of shortest visits to London.

Brief History

The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter in 1960, although the idea of a National Army Museum had been around since the 1950s. Its goal was to collect, preserve and exhibit objects from the regular and auxiliary army of the British and Commonwealth forces. 

Its first home was at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, before it moved to a purpose-built building, which was built on part of the site of the old infirmary of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the building on November 11, 1971.

The museum went through some upgrades and mild refurbishments, from 206-2011, which resulted in more exhibition spaces and allowed for permanent and non-permanent displays, on its third floor.

Between May 2014 and March 2017 the museum closed its doors, for a major refurbishment. With a large atrium and improved signage, you can now journey through the museum and follow the history of the army, from its first days to its current and ongoing operations.

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