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As IWM London reveals how they installed the Mark V tank in the new gallery space, Roger Mann gives some background details about the why the iconic tank comes to rest as seen in the video below.

The Mark V tank was a permanent and always fascinating object at IWM London’s gallery, welcoming visitors to walk around its quiet hulking form. 

As we began the task of reconsidering the First World War Gallery, it was given that the Mark V would be part of the story, as would many new large and small objects. 

As exhibition designers, our job is to tell stories, to give objects a voice that helps them come alive as real and vital elements of a bigger story.

Our first concept was to restore the Mark V to a more dramatic, even authentic, role in the Gallery, evocative of the classic image of a rampant tank churning through no mans land – a menacing machine designed to climb over the most daunting terrain. To convey this effectively, we envisaged it above a new Trench experience, with a Sopwith Camel high above.

The Trench experience in IWM London's new First World War Gallery

The Trench experience in IWM London’s new First World War Gallery

These three objects, tank, trench and camel form a natural dynamic – visually as well as experientially. Soldiers in the trenches, looking up at the sky through a narrow slit would really have seen and heard these planes flying above them, just as they would at times, experience the dread of tanks rumbling towards them .

Happily, the curators agreed with our concept. We then began the task of ensuring that the Mark V could be positioned at a steep angle without compromising its structural integrity. Working closely with a team including curators, structural engineer and conservationists, we found a way to combine these objects into one cohesive and dramatic experience that forms one of the focal points of the First World War Galleries.

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