A Shard Experience

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Review of the Imperial War Museum North, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester. Opens 5 July.

The impact of war on the lives of ordinary people throughout the 20th and 21st centuries is the theme of this new site of the Imperial War Museum, which opens in Manchester at the beginning of July. Set on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, the spectacular new building is meant to signify the concept of a world shattered by conflict, a fragmented globe reassembled in three interlocking shards. These shards represent conflict on land, air and water. Visitors enter through the Air Shard, which is open to the elements. It houses a viewing platform with spectacular views across the canal to Manchester city centre. The curved Earth Shard houses the main public areas of the museum, while the Water Shard overlooks the canal.

The opening exhibitions will include 'The Experience of War'--personal stories by volunteers and conscripts, prisoners of war, internees and refugees. 'Women and War' will look at the role of women's wartime work in the military and in industry, as well as the impact of women in the peace movement. 'Impressions of War' will examine life in the trenches during the First World War, as well as the impact of propaganda during the Vietnam and Falklands War. 'The Legacy of War' will take up the issue of munitions left behind and the psychological impact of war for both those involved in conflict and civilians.

A 220-metre 3D line of objects, pictures, films and information, the Time Line, stretches around the perimeter of the main exhibition space. Visitors can take a 3D chronological journey through the landmark events from 1900 to today.

A 360-degree audio visual experience called 'The Big Picture' will show the Imperial War Museum's huge photograph and sound archives in an entirely new way. During the presentation continually changing images will be projected onto the gallery walls, floors and the visitors themselves, creating a total 'immersive' environment.

This all suggests that, as in the Imperial War Museum in London, there will be plenty here to support the arguments of those who are currently involved in the anti-war movement.