Discover what life was like during World War One through the eyes of people in Britain and its empire, both on the home and fighting fronts, in a new, permanent gallery at the Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Coinciding with celebrations to mark the centenary of World War One, the ground-breaking First World War Galleries draw upon the museum’s war collections, the richest and most comprehensive in the world, and is made up of 14 chapters.  

Visitors can view more than 1,300 objects on display, many of which have never been seen before. Items range from weapons, uniforms and equipment to diaries and letters, keepsakes and trinkets, photographs, film and art. 

There will also be family-friendly interactive displays including a recruitment wall where uniforms can be tried on. 

Highlights include Life at the Front, which looks at what life was like for the troops in the trenches and Shock, where guests can hear the scream of shrapnel shells, as they come face to face with a French 75mm field gun, which contributed to the deaths of a million men in just four months of fighting. 

Drawing on IWM’s rich poster collection, Your Country Needs You focuses on the campaign to recruitment a ‘New Army’. 

Visitors will see a doll of Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, figurehead of the recruitment campaign and a letter from nine-year-old Alfie Knight pleading to allow him to enlist as he "can ride jolley [sic] quick on my bicycle and… am a good shot with a revolver." 

At the centre of the galleries with the towering 9.2in howitzer gun ‘Mother’ on display, Total War will explore the Battle of the Somme, the five-month-long costly battle that started in July 1916 and marked a pivotal point in the war. 

The scale of casualties is represented through a chilling map showing the numbers of British and Empire temporary graves in just one sector of the battlefield. Visitors will then walk through a ‘trench’, with a Sopwith Camel fighter plane swooping low overhead and a Mark V tank looming above. 

Projected silhouettes of soldiers and a soundscape will evoke the drudgery, discomfort, danger and comradeship which characterised the experience of a British ‘Tommy’ on the Western Front, from a sudden thunderstorm to a gas attack. 

The terrible strains endured will be explored in Breaking Down through objects such as Siegfried Sassoon’s letter protesting at the continuation of war. 

In Seizing Victory the dramatic story of 1918 will be told. 

 War Without End concludes the exhibition, showing how the war changed the world forever, from the human cost to the new world order that emerged. 

Further events being held at the gallery include: In Conversation with Kate Adie: The Legacy of Women in the First World War, September 16, Is Art a True Picture of War? With BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz, October 21, First World War: Poems from the Front with John Simpson and poetry readings, November 4, and Why Soldiers Fight: From the First World War to Afghanistan, November 19.
First World War Galleries is at IWM London, Lambeth Road, SE1, daily, 10am until 6pm. Details:,  020 7416 5000.