Refugees: Forced to Flee

Imperial War Museum (IWM) London

Challenging Common Perceptions

Exhibition Design

Refugees: Forced to Flee looks at the experience of refugees from the last 100 years, from Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and the Kindertransport to the Calais Jungle and the treacherous Mediterranean crossings. It explores the consequent displacement as a devastating human consequence of conflict and, in the course of the exhibition, common perceptions are challenged by a focus on the deeply personal experiences of people forced to flee their homes and the challenges they have faced in making their journey to safety and re-settling.

The exhibition is located on level three of IWM London in a 620 sq m space and represents the sixth creative collaboration between Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Nissen Richards Studio. Divided into three main sections, the exhibition design uses examples from the same four conflicts acting as threads: First World War, Second World War, Bosnia and Afghanistan. The materiality of the exhibition reflects the emotions and environments of the journey the refugees take and includes lots of open frameworks, expressing a language of breaking things down.

Three bespoke art installations by Grace Schwindt, Indrė Šerpytytė and Shorsh Saleh add a new level of interpretation to the exhibition’s themes, sited within monotone-coloured spaces to set them apart from the surrounding exhibition content and give them room to breathe.


IWM London


London and international


Exhibition Design


Imperial War Museum graphics
Luminance Lighting Design

Gareth Gardner