Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AQ
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Churchill Museum Visitor information:
The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms will be open daily 9.30am - 6.00pm, last entrance at 5.00pm.
Closed 24, 25 and 26 December.
Nearest London Underground tube stations: Westminster (Jubilee, District or Circle Line), St James's Park (District and Circle Line)
Churchill Museum Background Information
The Churchill Museum is the first major museum in the world solely dedicated to the life, achievements and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill. It comprises of over 9000 square feet of exhibition space displaying artefacts, photographs, documents and film, including material never seen by the public before, interspersed with numerous interactive exhibits. The new museum was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 10 February 2005.
The museum is divided into five ‘chapters’ of Churchill’s life: - Young Churchill (1874-1900) - Maverick Politician (1900-1929) - Wilderness Years (1929-1939) - War Leader (1940-1945) - Cold War Statesman (1945-1965) A ground breaking feature of the Churchill Museum is a unique electronic ‘Lifeline’ table which allows visitors to journey through the extraordinary life of our ‘Greatest Briton’ (as voted in the 2002 BBC Poll, 2002).
The Lifeline is a computerised filing cabinet, with a virtual file containing items relating to each year, and in many cases each month and day, of Churchill’s life. Touching the strip at the edge of the Lifeline will bring up contextual data, documents, films, photographs and even sound tracks that relate to his life whilst providing fascinating historical context. The museum allows visitors to view a wealth of artefacts that have been lent or given by the Churchill family, and private individuals and benefactors from across the globe. These include items of Churchill’s clothing such as his signature red siren suit and iconic spotted bow tie, both produced for him personally by a top West End tailor.
The displays include many uniquely personal documents relating to his life - school reports, love letters from and to his wife Clementine, and the ransom note for the escape of Churchill from a South African prisoner of war camp. The Churchill Museum is housed within the Cabinet War Rooms which provide the backdrop to Churchill’s finest hour, where he championed the cause of freedom and shaped the course of world history.
The Cabinet War Rooms have been open to the public for over 20 years and during this time visitors have consistently expressed a desire to learn more about Churchill. It is therefore absolutely appropriate to position the new museum alongside the very rooms from which Churchill directed Britain’s war effort in the nation’s darkest days. However, the Churchill Museum moves beyond this war time image to explore the personality behind the legend and uncovers a complex man whose lifetime and achievement spanned far beyond his role as wartime leader.
A museum design of international quality has been created by Casson Mann, designers of the British Galleries at the V&A and other prestigious exhibitions. This includes cutting edge audio-visual displays, interactive touch screens and learning zones. These features combine to produce a stimulating and unique visitor experience, and a benchmark for personality museums in the twenty first century. Visitors will be able to purchase one ticket admitting them to both the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. Visitors will take a step back in time first, viewing the Cabinet Room and the Transatlantic Telephone Room which are left as they were when last used in 1945.
Then visitors will enter the Churchill Museum, a distinctly different part of the visit, before continuing their tour of the historic rooms. It will take approximately 90 minutes to see both the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. The first stages of the extension to the Cabinet War Rooms cost £8 million and were achieved with the assistance of a major grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. But the Churchill Museum, costing UK£6 million (cUS$11 million), received no official funding and has been achieved purely through gifts from private individuals and trusts in the UK and the USA.
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OPENS NEW CHURCHILL MUSEUM
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II opened the world’s first major museum dedicated to the life of Sir Winston Churchill on 10 February 2005. The Churchill Museum is a new, but integral part of the historic Cabinet War Rooms, located in the basement of the Treasury building in Whitehall. With this year marking the fortieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death, the opening of the new Churchill Museum offers a timely and fitting opportunity to assess Churchill’s position in British and world history.
As Churchill was the first Prime Minister to serve during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, it was also highly appropriate that Her Majesty The Queen should inaugurate the new museum. At the opening, The Queen met many veterans who served under Churchill, including Mrs Elizabeth Nel, Churchill’s only living wartime secretary. Phil Reed said: “Churchill was an icon whose fame and significance still transcends class and generations. The young Queen Elizabeth was present at Churchill’s state funeral - the first for a commoner for over a hundred years - and so it is a particularly poignant and historic gesture that she should have been here the person to open his museum.
We are very grateful and proud that our tribute to the great man has been honoured in this way.” The Churchill Museum allows visitors from all over the world and from all age groups to explore the character and experiences of the man behind the legend. The museum examines how Churchill achieved his global iconic status and looks at the changing world in which he lived his long and extraordinary life.
The 850 square metre museum combines cutting-edge technology, rare and significant historical objects, and thousands of images, film and sound recordings to tell the story of Churchill’s ninety-year life. Visitors will be able to follow the successes and controversies, the highs and lows, and the joys and sorrows of this pre-eminent and multi-talented writer, soldier and politician.
Official Churchill Museum website: churchillmuseum.iwm.org.uk