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New exhibition at Imperial War Museum London launches featuring Warwick research

Research led by Professor Vicki Squire of PAIS is featured in a major new exhibition at IWM London.

Refugees: Forced to Flee explores a century of refugee experiences, from Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews to the Calais Jungle. Combining new research and real-life experiences with photographs, oral histories, documents and objects – many of which will be displayed for the first time – the exhibition will question why conflict forces people to leave once safe places.

The exhibition, which will run until 24 May 2021, includes an animated audio installation based on research by the Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat project, led by Professor Vicki Squire from PAIS with a team from Warwick, ELIAMEP Athens and University of Malta.

In Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat, Professor Squire and her team collected the stories of people from the Middle East and Africa making the dangerous journey to safety in Europe through in-depth interviews. The research team wanted to challenge the assumptions that are often made about people migrating, and give those arriving to Europe the opportunity to tell their own stories in order to highlight the effects of EU migration policies on the journeys, experiences, understandings, expectations, concerns and demands of people on the move.

Professor Squire said:

"It is really exciting to see our research standing alongside some of the best AHRC and ESRC research on forced migration in this important new exhibition. As a research team, we owe it to those who so courageously spoke to us to share as widely as we can their experiences of precarious journeys and experiences of arrival to the EU. Thanks to IWM London for supporting us with this."

Challenging perceptions by putting people’s experiences at the centre of the Refugees: Forced to Flee, is rooted in cutting-edge research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), that explores the decisions and consequences faced by those whose worlds have been turned upside down by war over the past 100 years.

Simon Offord, Curator of Second World War and Mid 20th Century at IWM, said: “The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record, but with media attention less prevalent than it was in 2015, now more than ever it’s important for IWM to bring 100 years of refugee voices and experiences back to the forefront.”

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, and Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair, said:

“More than ever we need the insights and perspectives of our researchers to navigate the great global and contemporary social challenges of our times. We are delighted to see how UKRI’s high quality research on a broad spectrum of issues related to forced displacement has provided new and challenging thinking around refugee crises, past and present, which now features in this important exhibition. The impact of refugee crises and forced displacement is, above all, a human story and we hope that this exhibition helps raise awareness of the importance of a detailed understanding of the contemporary and historic contexts surrounding these complex issues, and sheds light on the lived experience of those separated from their families and displaced from their homes.”

  • Refugees: Forced to Flee is part of Refugees, a free season of exhibitions, artistic commissions and immersive events taking place across IWM London and IWM North in 2020 and 2021.
  • View the Crossing the Mediterranean interactive map:
  • The exhibition includes an animated audio installation based on research as well as an artwork by Indrė



Notes to editors

Refugees: Forced to Flee

24 September 2020 – 24 May 2021 Part of IWM’s free Refugees season #IWMRefugees

IWM London

IWM London tells the stories of those whose lives have been shaped by war through the depth, breadth and impact of our Galleries, displays and events. Explore the First World War Galleries and iconic Atrium; visit our Holocaust Exhibition; discover stories of bravery in The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes or take in our latest major temporary exhibitions.

UK Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas. UK Research and Innovation is also delivering specific aspects of the UK government’s no deal planning for EU Exit. To keep up to date please visit our dedicated pages. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.





Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

Social Science

07876 218166