Rebecca Newell, Head of Art at Imperial War Museums, will speak on the power of imagery to question and influence thinking about war and conflict.

This is the first in a series of events looking at how geopolitics shapes the arts and humanities, and how they in turn shape geopolitics.

The Centre for Geopolitics is delighted to host Rebecca Newell, Head of Art at Imperial War Museums (IWM), to speak about the museum’s collection of art about war and conflict.  From the foundation of the IWM in 1917, it has collected and sponsored the production of visual media and now holds over 11 million photographs, 23,000 hours of moving image and over 94,000 works of art, including a core of world-class 20th century modernism.  In November 2023 IWM opened its new Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries, which display almost 500 works from the IWM’s collection that speak to the power of imagery to question and influence thinking about war and conflict. Rebecca will talk about the role of visual practitioners as powerful narrators who shape how we think and feel about conflict, and the role of art, film and photography in influencing public opinion. As lead curator, she will also talk about the process of producing the new galleries.

About the speaker

Rebecca Newell has worked at IWM since 2017 and is the museum’s lead specialist for art history and artist engagement.  She works on all aspects related to the care, display and interpretation of IWM’s preeminent art collection, identifying new opportunities for collecting, artist commissioning and working with cultural partners. She was lead curator for the IWM Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries, and also leads the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, the IWM’s national artist commissioning partnership programme. She is part of the research-active staff community at IWM engaging with experts and academics on a range of topics. With Birkbeck’s Matt Cook, she has just finished supervising Lee Arnott’s collaborative PhD on the experiences of LGBTQ service personnel 1980-present. Her current research themes also include sexual and gender violence in conflict and early post-conflict spaces, marginalised and forgotten histories, issues of representation and the role of the artist in recording and memorialising conflict.


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