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Visitors welcomed back to Imperial War Museums, as new Ai Weiwei commission is unveiled at IWM London

Visitors welcomed back to Imperial War Museums, as new Ai Weiwei commission is unveiled at IWM London

Imperial War Museums (IWM) announces that it will reopen its London-based branch on 1 August 2020, following three months of closure due to coronavirus.

Visitors returning to IWM London will be welcomed back by a brand new addition to the museum’s iconic Atrium – a commission from the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, titled History of Bombs.

History of Bombs is a site-specific artwork that forms part of IWM’s Refugees season. It draws on the artist’s ongoing investigation into politics and power, exploring international migration, conflict as a root cause of human flow, and the relationship between the individual, society and the state. Covering over 1,000 square feet, Ai’s takeover of the museum’s Atrium is the first time that the space has been given over in its entirety to an artist. Visitors are encouraged to book their free timed-tickets online at Members will have priority booking, with public bookings opening on Wednesday 15 July.

To celebrate the museum’s reopening, IWM will also be launching a new range of Ai Weiwei products, including a limited-edition History of Bombs print. These exclusive prints will come with a certificate of authenticity, bearing the artist’s digital signature, and will only be available in store at IWM London, from 1 August 2020 while stocks last.

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Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM, said: “Not since the Second World War has IWM been forced to close its doors entirely to visitors, but we’re so pleased to share the news that IWM London will be open to visitors once more from 1 August 2020. While our doors have been shut, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make sure an extraordinary new artwork is ready to welcome our visitors back into the museum. We’re glad that that the results of that work will soon be experienced, as visitors see Ai Weiwei’s History of Bombs for the first time.

Spearheading IWM’s Refugees season, History of Bombs by Ai Weiwei will be on display at IWM London from 1 August 2020 until 2021. Refugees, which includes an extensive programme of exhibitions and events, will be rolled out in phases across IWM London and IWM North for the duration of the rest of the year. Highlights include Refugees: Forced to Flee (from 24 September 2020) at IWM London, an exhibition supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Life in a Camp (from 24 September 2020), a partnership project with CNN, A Face To Open Doors (at IWM London from 24 September 2020; touring Manchester dates to follow), an immersive installation created by the award-winning artists Anagram, and the exhibition Aid Workers: Ethics Under Fire (from 2 October 2020) at IWM North