Imperial War Museum - Trafford Road, Manchester, UK

Daniel Libeskind
Date Built
Trafford Park Road
Daniel Libeskind is an architect with an international reputation.  His practice extends from building major cultural and commercial institutions - including museums and concert halls - to convention centres, universities, housing, hotels, shopping centres and residential work.  He was born in Poland in 1946 and became an American citizen in 1965.  He studied music in Israel and New York and become a virtuoso performer.  He left music to study architecture in New York and Exeter.

As an architect Libeskind has been responsible for a number of dramatic buildings and Manchester is fortunate to be home to one of them.  In 2002 the Imperial War Museum opened its first "branch" outside of the south-east of England.  The concept of the museum has been controversial and the building itself shocked many people.  Leibskind describes it as follows:

"The Imperial War Museum North deals with the conflicts that have shaped the 20th century and those which will continue to shape the future.  The concept for the project is that of a globe shattered into fragments and then reassembled on that site as an iconic emblem of conflict.  The building is the interlocking of three shards representing earth, air, and water.  The Museum, permanent exhibits, temporary exhibits, learning center and restaurant were completed in 2001 by SDL and Sir Robert McAlpine and opened in 2002.  During its first year, the Museum had more than 421,000 visitors."

IWM North describes itself as "One of the most talked about Museums in Britain today, Imperial War Museum North is about people and their stories, about how lives have been and still are shaped by war and conflict."

"From the Harrier Jump Jet suspended over your head as you enter, to the regularly changing displays in The WaterWay's intimate exhibition space, the Museum contains a wealth of Imperial War Museums collections which you cannot help but be surprised, moved and sometimes even shocked by. A varied exhibition and event programme offers activities for adults and families alike, including daily tours, object handling sessions and special holiday activities."

One of its best features in my mind are the big shows which play at regular intervals each day.  Using the huge wall spaces as projection screens the museum envelopes visitors in engaging multi-media presentations.