Imperial War Museum announces the First World War Centenary Partnership Programme

Image from the Third Battle of Ypres, 5th September 1917. Courtesy Imperial War Museums

Image from the Third Battle of Ypres, 5th September 1917. Courtesy Imperial War Museums

The First World War Centenary Partnership’s Programme is to present over 500 new exhibitions, 1,500 events across the country and 700 new digital resources to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War in 2014.

Established in 2010 by Imperial War Museums, the First World War Centenary Partnership is a network of over 1,800 cultural and educational not-for-profit organisations from 37 countries, who are producing a collective programme of events, activities and resources from 2014 – 2018 to mark the centenary.

Of the 500 new exhibitions and galleries opening around the world, 200 of these will launch in 2014 in 14 countries, and they will include over 50 new art commissions. In 2014, over 150 members of the Partnership from 10 countries will be launching their events as part of the global commemorations.

These events include film screenings, performances and festivals, lectures, tours and hands-on workshops encouraging the public to interact with the objects, stories and issues presented by the conflict. 700 digital resources about the First World War will be created for the Centenary including digitised collections, virtual exhibitions, games, podcasts, films and videos and online courses as well as nearly 100 mobile apps relating to the First World War.

“The First World War Centenary Partnership’s Programme is vast and continues to grow on a daily basis,” says Diane Lees, Director−General of IWM. “The thousands of events, exhibitions and resources being produced will allow people to mark the centenary in their communities, in a way that is meaningful to them.

“This outstanding level of activity shows that discussions about marking the centenary are not only taking place at Governmental, academic and institutional levels but also in homes and communities in the UK and beyond. The First World War centenary really matters to a huge amount of people. It may be because of a personal and family connection, the effect the First World War had on their hometown, how it changed our wider society or because of their beliefs about war and the importance of peace.

“We are all connected to the First World War and this huge and growing programme shows that millions of people want to remember and learn more about its impact.” is the official website for the First World War Centenary Partnership. Throughout the centenary new events and activities will be added each week to the events calendar produced in partnership with Culture 24

Highlights of the Centenary Partnership Programme:


Travoys arriving with wounded by Stanley Spencer Travoys, 1919. Image courtesy Imperial War Museums

Travoys arriving with wounded by Stanley Spencer Travoys, 1919. Image courtesy Imperial War Museums


New ground-breaking First World War Galleries will open at IWM London (from July 2014) drawing on IWM’s First World War collections which are the richest and most comprehensive in the world, as well as Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War the largest and first major retrospective of British First World War art for almost 100 years featuring over 110 paintings, sculptures and drawings from IWM’s collections, will assess the immediate impact and enduring legacy of Britain’s First World War art.

The largest exhibition ever created exploring the North West of England during the war – From Street to Trench: A War That Shaped a Region will open at IWM North (from 5 April 2014) revealing the region’s role in a global conflict and how it was shaped by this landmark conflict. Meanwhile at IWM Duxford, visitors will be able to find out about the nature of land warfare and mechanisation in the Land Warfare exhibition as well as First World War aircraft in its AirSpace exhibition.

Tate Modern will present 100 Years Later: Conflict, Time, Photography (from 19 Nov 2014, working title), where the relationship between photography and different sites of conflict is explored over time. Highlighting the fundamental aspect of time in photography, the exhibition will include different perspectives which artists using cameras have brought to the sites they have depicted over different passages of time: from works made a few moments or one day after an event, to those made one year later or 10, 20, 30 and 100 years later.

The British Library will present Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour (19 June – 12 October 2014), a free exhibition in the Library’s Folio Society Gallery which will examine the question of how people coped with life during the Great War, from moments of patriotic fervour to periods of anxious inactivity, shock or despair.

Hope in the Great War is RNLI’s four year touring exhibition highlighting the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people who volunteered for the RNLI throughout the First World War. Starting at the RNLI’s Henry Blogg Museum in Norfolk (from 4 Feb 2014) the exhibition will convey a sense of hope with many lives saved at sea by the charity; it offers an ideal way for young children to learn more about life in the First World War.

The Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire are focusing on the medical advances that came out of the First World War with their Unknown Heroes exhibition (from July 2014 – working title). Drawing on modern day parallels with contemporary theatres of war, the exhibition will examine the complex relationship between war and medicine.

National Museum Cardiff will host The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals (from 2 Aug 2014) – a series of lithograph prints from the Museum’s collection, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1917 with the aim of encouraging a war weary public and to raise support for the  war effort. The exhibition will explore the varying attitudes such as the changing role of women as a result of the War.

Choices Then and Now is both a multi-media exhibition (in 2016) and education project (from Jan 2014) produced by the Peace Museum UK in Bradford. Drawing on stories linked to artefacts and documents from the Peace Museum’s UK collection, the project focuses on the choices available and made by young people then and now and reflecting on the consequences of the choices made.Ryde Social Heritage Group in the Isle of Wight, are planning The Changing Face of Ryde a range of events including two open days with displays and trails in Ryde Cemetery (24 and 25 May 2014) with an opportunity to visit the graves of the fallen and find out what happened to their families and businesses and how the social life of Ryde changed with the onset of war.

Music and Performance

Award-winning British choreographers Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett are creating new works for English National Ballet’s Lest we Forget, a programme of British dance inspired by the centenary of the First World War performed at the Barbican (2 – 12 April, 2014).

Forming part of the National Portrait Gallery’s commemoration plans the display Keep the Home Fires Burning, will feature stars of Music Halls of the Great War period and First World War-inspired performances by the Portrait Choir.

A specially commissioned production of poetry, prose and music of the First World War, Never Such Innocence will be taking place at Australia House, London (14 – 15 May 2014). Organized by Lady Lucy French in conjunction with the Australian High Commission, the piece will also include the letters and diaries of Lady French’s great grandfather, Field Marshal Sir John French.

For armistice this year (10 Nov 2013) National Theatre Productions are putting on Anthems for Peace a special night of readings, art and music where you can hear from Olivier Award-winning designer Rae Smith’s describing how her designs for War Horse were created, hear Michael Morpurgo reading extracts from the book before he is joined by BAFTA award-winning actress Virginia McKenna.

In Whitchurch, Shropshire a community led classical music extravaganza, The Sir Edward German Music Festival (28 April – 2nd May 2014) will include performances of works by Sir Edward German and his contemporaries, including composers who failed to return from the war. The Festival is both a celebration of the life and times of this quintessentially English composer of note and a commemoration of the sacrifices made during the Great War

The Birmingham Bach Choir will premiere a new specially commissioned choral symphony at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham (13 Sept 2014). The symphony by the choir’s conductor Paul Spicer reflects on suffering, sacrifice and bravery and is dedicated to heroes in all generations, and takes its text from ‘Unfinished Remembering’ a poem by Euan Tait.

Education and Digital Resources

IWM will launch Lives of the First World War (Feb 2014), a permanent digital memorial to more than eight million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth who served in uniform and worked on the home front. From those who served from across the country, the million who served from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the 1.5 million people from the Indian sub- continent served in uniform through to those from Africa, the West Indies and many other parts of the ‘Empire.’  It will be the official place for communities across the world to connect, explore, reveal and share even more about these people’s lives. IWM is inviting everyone to discover their stories, connect their records and remember their lives.

The British Library is leading the UK’s contribution to a pan-European commemoration of the Centenary, Europeana Collections 1914-1918, which will make hundreds of thousands of newly digitised materials relating to stories and events of the war available online for free. 10,000 items  from the British Library’s own collections will be accessible via Europeana, and as part of the project the a new online resource offering curated access to around 500 of the items on the site for schools and lifelong learners will be launched. The Library’s digitised content will showcase both the British and international experiences of the war, including poetry, postcards and propaganda posters, trench journals, handwritten letters and children’s accounts of the war, as well as an astonishing collection  of censored mail sent home by Indian troops serving on the front line.

During the centenary Quakers across the UK will be focusing on their opposition to war and the role in the creation of legislation to allow conscientious objection. A real-time social media storytelling project will introduce five Quakers who blog about their daily lives and dilemmas: faced with conscription, should they go to prison, go to war or seek alternative service? The White Feather Diaries will run over three years leading up to the anniversary of the Act which brought in conscription.

Weetwood Hall in Leeds are running a conference, The First World War in Retrospect (28 July – 1 August 2014) in partnership with organisations such as York Army Museum, the Royal Armouries, Leeds University Library and The Liddle Collection and showcases screenings from the Yorkshire Film Archive. Subjects range from ‘War Readiness in Britain’ through to ‘The Public Response to the National Crisis’ with keynote speakers from the University of Wolverhampton and the Western Front Association to name a few.

• For more information visit

First published on the Charley’s War web site

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