The National Army Museum will open to the public on March 30 after a three-year £23.75 million re-development project including £11.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The main site in Chelsea, London, has been reconfigured to create a more welcoming, accessible and flexible environment – enabling the National Army Museum to manage increasing visitor figures, predicted to reach 400,000 by 2026.
The new building will include more than 2,500 objects in five permanent themed galleries, laid out over four floors: Soldier, Army, Battle, Society and Insight.
There will also be temporary exhibition space, a study centre, a learning centre, new cafe, shop and Play Base for children.
Janice Murray, director general, said: “The new National Army Museum is a bright, contemporary space where visitors of all ages can learn about the British Army past and present.
“The thematic galleries provide a space to explore and discuss the army and its relevance to society in ways that we sometimes would not imagine, from fashion and films to flood defences and, of course, conflict.”
Sir Peter Luff, HLF chair added: “The National Army Museum is quite literally transformed.
“The clean, spacious design should please regular visitors and also attract a whole new audience.”
Objects on display include Crimean Tom, a cat found during the Crimean War and brought back to Britain as a pet; the Welsh flag which formed part of the memorial of a soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2009 and later died in hospital; and James McGuire’s Victoria Cross, which he received for gallantry during the Indian Mutiny but lost when he was convicted of stealing his uncle’s cow.