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Photographs of the museum before and after the Blitz bombing

Imagine walking into World Museum before 3 May 1941. Visitors stepped into grand halls lined with marble arches. As they looked up they saw people strolling along the balconies, peering over the fancy iron railings into the galleries below.

In just a few hours all this was gone. The photographs from the museum’s archive show the grandeur of the galleries before the Blitz and the devastation that followed. The features that survived the fire were ripped out in the 1960s when the slow process of rebuilding the museum began.

The photographs you see here show the museum’s galleries as they were between 1906-1932 and then how they were after the bombs fell on 3 May 1941.

Middle Mayer hall, about 1906Middle Mayer hall, named after Joseph Mayer, in about 1906. 

Middle Mayer hall after Blitz bombing
Middle Mayer hall, after the Blitz bombing. 

Middle Mayer hall after the Blitz bombing
Middle Mayer hall after the Blitz bombing.

Middle Mayer hall - exposed structure
Middle Mayer hall after the Blitz bombing.

Middle Mayer hall broken stairs and rubbleMiddle Mayer hall after the Blitz bombing.

Main hall circa 1906Main hall, about 1932.

 Main hall, man propping up Ancient Egyptian mummy
Main hall after the Blitz bombing. 

Main hall after the Blitz bombingMain hall after the Blitz bombing

Main hallMain hall after the Blitz bombing

Main hallLower horseshoe gallery, 1914.

Main hall  after the Blitz bombingLower Horseshoe gallery (now where the Bug House is)

Lower horseshoe gallery
Main hall, about 1906. 

 world-museum-blitz13

Main hall after the Blitz bombing

Lower horseshoe galleryMain hall after the Blitz bombing

Antiquities and ceramics galleriesAntiquities and ceramics galleries

Upper Horseshoe gallery after the Blitz bombingAntiquities and ceramics galleries after the Blitz bombing

Upper horseshoe galleryDon Pedro and friends in the Upper Horseshoe gallery

Upper horseshoe gallery
The Upper Horseshoe gallery (now the World Cultures gallery)

Upper horseshoe galleryUpper Horseshoe gallery after the bombing

upper-horseshoe-gallery20The Upper Horseshoe gallery after the Blitz bombing (now World Cultures gallery)