A pioneering approach to exhibition design

The Imperial War Museum North is a landmark, multi award-winning marriage of architecture and exhibition design. Daniel Libeskind’s iconic building punctuates Manchester cityscape as fractured shards meld together to evoke the war-torn earth. Our exhibition design is in direct response to the building. It is a confronting and stark take on a war museum. Conflict and chaos are as legible on the building’s four walls as they are in the objects. The gravity of war is made tangible around you.


All-consuming and evocative; dynamic and dramatic

Dramatic and theatrical, our design is a radical departure from traditional object display and interpretation. An irregular design reflects the inherent chaos of war. Four freestanding structures, or silos, unapologetically punctuate the space. Each covers a new theme and draws you up close to the objects.

The true masterpiece of the experience is the Big Picture Show. Every hour, the lights are dimmed, stopping you in your tracks as you are engulfed in a 360, cinematic experience. In a pioneering new take on a multimedia show, the film is projected on every surface. Sound rumbles around you as an ensemble of 64 projectors and 34 speakers transform the space. The shows delve into the museum’s exhaustive sound and image archive to capture the raw emotion and harrowing consequences of war. Visceral, demanding and confronting, never before have media and exhibition design come together so dramatically.

Powerful, imaginative, flexible, robust, award winning – IWM North’s Big Picture shows are all this and more.

Jim Forrester, Director, Imperial War Museum North


Standing the test of time

Our design dared to do something bold, different and unexpected that has stood the test of time. Today, two decades later, the Big Picture Show continues to pull visitors in. It has proven integral to the museum’s resounding and ongoing success. While the content and hardware has since been updated, the concept remains as relevant today as when the museum first opened its doors.

Special Commendation

European Museum of the Year Award 2004


Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence, Best Use of Technology 2003


RIBA Stirling Prize 2004

What you need in a building like this is a much more visceral experience and this is what you get… it surrounds you, it bombards you, it engulfs you in the way that a war museum should.

Richard Cork, BBC Radio 4


Daniel Libeskind


DHA Design


Sysco Productions