The variety of museums and galleries we have in Manchester means we get to experience a plethora of exhibitions, whether that be historical, arty or scientific. Now, Imperial War Museum‘s (IWM) first ever exhibition focusing on the Troubles in Northern Ireland is coming to IWM North in Salford Quays, connecting this important history with Northern Ireland’s closest neighbour region.
Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles (22 March 2024 – 29 September 2024) unpacks a complex chapter of our shared history, shining a light on the different narratives experienced by people who lived through the conflict within Northern Ireland and allowing them to share their version of events.
This free exhibition is IWM’s first on the subject and opens at IWM North following its inaugural and highly successful run at IWM London. First hand testimony and objects including a rubber bullet, propaganda posters and a Good Friday Agreement booklet will help visitors understand the multiple perspectives and human stories.
The Troubles engulfed Northern Ireland in conflict for nearly 30 years. It was – and remains – a contentious period, with roots going back centuries. A cease fire was signed in 1998, yet many aspects of the conflict remain unresolved to this day and are highly contested by those who experienced and participated in it.
While there are key events and defining moments that make up the history of the Troubles, there is often no single story that everyone involved can agree on. People have different perspectives on what took place.
Rather than offer a narrative history of the conflict, this exhibition introduces four themes – the night of 27-28 June 1970; the heightened violence of the 1970s and 1980s; the everyday experience for those affected by the Troubles; and the legacy of the conflict within Northern Ireland today – to explore the events, communities and paramilitary factions that underpin this difficult and complex 30-year period.
Visitors will hear from individuals on all sides of the conflict, from republican and loyalist paramilitaries to British soldiers, local police and ordinary civilians. These first-hand testimonies highlight what it was like to live through the Troubles.
Recounting everyday scenes of violence and the reality of living among deeply divided communities, these different perspectives help us understand the nuances and challenges of this conflict and the motivations, attitudes, anxieties, hopes and fears felt by those closest to it.
Alongside objects recently acquired as part of an initiative to grow IWM’s Northern Ireland collection, the exhibition also includes archival photography depicting hunger strike riots, streets lined with Army checkpoints and the aftermath of bombings, painting a vivid picture of a country shaped by restrictions and torn apart by violence.
Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles is curated by Craig Murray (Head of Cold War and Late 20th Century) and has been developed in close collaboration with a broad range of individuals with lived experience of the conflict as well as an advisory panel of experts and historians.
Craig Murray, Curator of the Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles exhibition, said: “Following its successful run in London, we’re looking forward to bringing this important exhibition to new audiences.
“Continuing to share the stories of those individuals who experienced this conflict first-hand holds an enduring importance if we are to deepen understanding of this difficult and highly contentious period in our shared history.”
Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles is a free exhibition and opens at IWM North on 22 March 2024. You can also learn more about the Troubles on IWM’s website here.