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“Fundamentally good but...”

National Army Museum
Ranked #387 of 1,912 things to do in London
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The National Army Museum will open its bright new building to the public on 30 March 2017. It features five dynamic new galleries showcase thousands of objects from across our collections. They tell a huge range of stories from the army's history. Visitors can learn how to drum a battle command, or experience taking charge of a tank! The galleries offer many perspectives. They address fundamental questions such as 'Why do we have an army?', examine the army's relationship with society, and show how it has touched virtually every part of the world. They also reveal individual experiences of life as a soldier, including the conflicts they have fought in. The museum is a fun, interactive space for all the family. Our engaging museum experience reaches out to all. We want to connect the British public with its army, regardless of age, gender, race and religion. We aim to be a first class museum that moves, inspires, challenges, educates and entertains. We examine the army's role as protector, aggressor and peacekeeper from the British Civil Wars to the modern day. Through our collections we preserve and share stories of ordinary people with extraordinary responsibilities. We explore the role of the army and its relevance today. The new National Army Museum is for everyone, no matter what they think about the British Army.
Reviewed 6 April 2018

A basically very good museum but some aspects need improvement. Free admission but one display/exhibition charged £8. It didn’t warrant the extra charge and the concession applicability wasn’t listed. So a poor execution in my view. The cafe is a disaster, badly laid out with customers wandering everywhere including behind the till which was actually hard to identify. Food poorly displayed and the price of slice of cake was ridiculous. I know it is a free museum but the cafe should not seek to compensate for that factor. Exhibits and displays generally very good but some overly PC and indeed inaccurate. I would recommend for children over 8 years old.

Thank PaulHampshire
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"interactive displays"
in 22 reviews
"royal hospital"
in 12 reviews
"special forces"
in 11 reviews
"soft play"
in 9 reviews
"chelsea pensioners"
in 8 reviews
"sloane square tube station"
in 7 reviews
"civil war"
in 7 reviews
"younger visitors"
in 5 reviews
"the lower ground floor"
in 4 reviews
"different periods"
in 4 reviews
"all ages"
in 19 reviews
"chronological order"
in 4 reviews
"first world war"
in 5 reviews
"couple of hours"
in 14 reviews
"special exhibition"
in 5 reviews
"free entrance"
in 4 reviews
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Reviewed 6 April 2018 via mobile

The visit was very interesting with so much to see and to read the display of everything was maintained well the museum was clean and staff were friendly, a gentleman who worked there often come and spoke and told us lots of information, this museum is a place to visit we spent a couple of hours here but you could easily spend longer in there. Free admission but donations are welcome I Donated £10 because myself and two sons 17&10 loved it and learnt a lot. Well worth a visit.

Thank Kellie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2018

The Army Museum in Chelsea has recently has a £23 m refit; it certainly looks the part, very modern, lots of open spaces, TV/computer screens and white paint, but what exactly is it's purpose ?

There are two answers to this – firstly it's aim is to show the history of the British Army, to provide an understanding of how it's campaigns were undertaken, and the men, tactics and strategies involved. Does it do this ? I'm not qualified to say, but based on the previous comments on this site, the answer is only to a very superficial extent. Has the whole thing been dumbed down/oversimplified to appeal to an audience with only a superficial interest ? Again, I don't know.

Now the second (and more serious question) does it explain why the UK has an Army ? To me this is where it fails totally. There are a few areas dealing with what I'll broadly call “ethics”, but this is really about how society expects it's military to behave in an operational role, rather than why it exists. Now, this certainly has been dumbed down – an example is while a few display boards say that maybe we need an Army to deal with International terrorism or natural disasters, there is little beyond this. No (substantial) mention for example of the need to protect our democracy from other counties that threaten us and our freedoms, no detailed mention of why the Second World War took place, no mention of the Cold War, no mention of NATO.

(I understand that museums have to appeal to children, but they also have to be more than somewhere to play for 10 mins).

The displays themselves are good, in that items/text are well presented in a modern clear way, but to me it's poor overall, because it leaves so many important questions unasked.

4  Thank Stu151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2018

This place promises a lot, the redevelopment looks stunning from the pavement. However, don't be fooled. Whoever 'designed' this museum experience would likely be more at home in a poorly funded regional theme park. One of the first things that hits you is the surly and unhelpful staff. I needed change for parking (PayByPhone was down) and despite offering to buy a £3.50 small bag of sweets to get such change, was told they couldn't give me any, it was against policy (thank heavens the local Tesco didn't have the same policy otherwise we would have turned straight back for home).

They say an Army marches on its stomach and clearly, the National Army Museum survives by its restaurant - the size and prominence given over to the cafe clearly suggests that is where the profits are made. The specs of the whole place seem exclusively geared towards a glorified creche. Everything has been dumbed down to the extreme with uninspiring displays dominated by more touch screens than an iPhone test lab. Most of all is the lack of narrative... after an hour, I was just confused about what this place was trying to say about Army history. My daughters, 10 and 12, initially beguiled by the colour an open spaces of the architecture, were soon bored and desperate to leave.

One has to be grateful, living in the UK where Government subsidies mean places like this are free to visit. But that places the onus on museum designers and management to provide an educational and inspirational experience. This place does not.

6  Thank B_Eley_London
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 4 April 2018

After waiting with anticipation for the museum's reopening I recently took my twife and eenage son and was terribly dissapointed by what we found. The museum fails in its purpose to tell the proud history of the British Army, focussing instead on it's impact on society and apologising for, rather than celebrating it's historic achievements. Instead of laying out what few exhibits remain in a logical chronological way, the visitor is presented by a haphazard and random set of displays which have no flow and serve only to confuse. Some gems still remain and the Waterloo exhibit is still worth the visit alone but, where once stood the greatest collection of military uniforms and weaponry there is now just vast open and wasted spaces. Sadly this is no longer the foremost army museum in the country, it has lost it's way badly and there are better regimental museums for those genuinely interested in British military history,

5  Thank Niels_Roberts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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