Ten military museums

War – what is it good for? Judging by our top ten military museums, everything from fine art and poetry to comic books and toy soldiers

Exterior view of the front of IWM Main building

IWM London (Imperial War Museums)

With a Spitfire, a V2 rocket and a 1918 tank among its exhibits, IWM London houses some of the greatest military icons since 1914. The displays reveal what it is like to live through conflict, covering such themes as espionage and life on the home front. Don't miss the excellent collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum was one of the finalists in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015.


Royal Armouries Museum

  • West Yorkshire
  • Free to all

Britain's national museum of arms and armour has an impressive collection of military equipment from 600 BC to the present day. What's more, it has dedicated galleries for oriental armour, tournaments, hunting and self defence – not to mention a crossbow range and adventure zone!


National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth

If a life mask taken from Nelson's face and a World War II Enigma Machine aren't enough to pique your interest, you can also try your hand at commanding a 74-gun ship or Merlin helicopter on the museum's simulators.


Gurkha Museum

  • Hampshire
  • Standard entry charge

The story of the service of Gurkhas began in 1814 with the Nepal War between the British East India Company and the warlike Nepalese, and Gurkha soldiers ended up by serving the British crown for over 200 years. The museum celebrates their bravery as well as the customs, beliefs and dress of their native Nepal.


National War Museum

  • Midlothian
  • Free to all

The National War Museum is home to over 400 years of Scottish military history. Highlights in the collection range from the stunning Seringapatam Sword to Bob the Dog, the stuffed regimental pet of the Scots Fusilier Guards.

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