Today we went to the Churchill War Rooms, which is probably the best museum I have ever visited.
The Churchill War Rooms Museum is where Winston Churchill (and British forces) managed all of WWII. It’s all underground and has a little door right by Parliament that leads to the underground annex. They worked and lived in those rooms throughout all of WWII and were never once discovered by Hitler or his forces nor were they bombed.* Once the war ended, they pretty much left the rooms just as they were while they lived and worked down there. Some of the rooms are recreated, but for the most part, everything is just as it was** on the day they left annex for good; the museum simply put plexiglass where there were once doors.
The best part about the museum is that the artifacts are not removed from their original location and brought into a secondary place for viewing—instead, the venue itself is an artifact. (I had many “Winston Churchill looked at this doorframe! And now I am looking at this doorframe!” moments.)
*This is an absolute miracle, because the annex, despite having up to 6 ft of concrete ceiling in some areas, was not sturdy enough to be a fully secure bomb shelter. During the Blitz, London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights, so it’s pretty remarkable that London survived at all. (This website is incredible and maps where the bombs fell.)
**Down to Winston Churchill’s half-smoked cigars and maps on the walls with the pins still marking points of invasion. The tablecloths, the folders, the books, the papers are all the same. In one strategy room, the chalkboard still has the original war “scorekeeping” from the last day in the annex.