While IWM Duxford is closed to visitors during the coronavirus pandemic, Imperial War Museums is bringing history to families across the globe through new digital programming.

American Air Museum at IWM Duxford. Picture: IWM / David MackeyAmerican Air Museum at IWM Duxford. Picture: IWM / David Mackey

From spies to submarines and life on the Home Front, IWM is sharing unique and personal stories from its extraordinary collections.

A new virtual tour of IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum will shortly be available, giving online visitors a unique opportunity to explore the story of Anglo-American collaboration over the course of 20th and 21st century conflict.

In this tour, visitors can see the largest collection of American military aircraft outside of the United States from the comfort of their own homes.

It has been developed by the Cambridgeshire aviation museum with the support of Foster and Partners, who designed and built the award-winning American Air Museum building in 1997.

Imperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWMImperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWM

The tour includes the cutting-edge SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft, and the imposing B-52 Stratofortress, a veteran of the Cold War and Vietnam.

You can also see the P-51 Mustang, recently conserved to represent ‘Etta Jeanne II’ and the personal aircraft of fighter pilot Colonel Huie Lamb, who flew with Duxford’s 78th Fighter Group during the Second World War.

A virtual tour of the Churchill War Rooms, the secret underground headquarters under Whitehall where Winston Churchill and his team directed the course of the Second World War, is also being made available.

Visitors can enjoy unique behind-the-glass access to the Cabinet Room where Churchill and his key ministers would meet to make important decisions about the course of the war.

Imperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWMImperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWM

You can also explore the labyrinth of rooms and corridors that stretched below Westminster to keep the war cabinet safe from German bombing.

Susie Thornberry, assistant director of public engagement and learning at IWM, said: “While our doors are temporarily closed, we want to bring IWM’s stories, collections and educational resources to homes everywhere.

“We believe we are a museum of extraordinary times and, at a time when children are off school and life as we know it is disrupted and uncertain, we hope our new digital programme will give families, teachers and carers a unique way to engage with history.”

IWM experts and CBBC presenter Ben Shires are introducing viewers at home to a different weekly theme inspired by the national curriculum, giving ingenious, surprising and moving perspectives on history that children would not normally hear in the classroom.

Imperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWMImperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWM

Adventures in History will see a new video uploaded on IWM’s YouTube channel and website every Wednesday at 2pm.

Families will have the opportunity to get their questions answered by an IWM expert from 2pm to 3pm, by leaving questions in the comments section, or on Facebook and Twitter.

You may also want to watch:

On Fridays, learning will be put to the test in Family Mission.

Imperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWMImperial War Museums' Churchill War Rooms. Picture: ©IWM

Every Friday at 11am, a ‘mission briefing’ will be shared on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter channels, encouraging viewers to get involved through an activity related to that week’s theme.

You can also engage with IWM’s curators and its collection on social media.

IWM will be sharing enhanced content across its social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – with a series of new hashtag initiatives.

In #CollectionSpotlight, IWM experts have been asked to pick and share a few words about unique, little-known and unusual objects from IWM’s collections.

In #SpeedCurating, IWM curators have been challenged to explain why they love their favourite collection item in a 60-second video.

On YouTube, audiences can go behind-the-scenes and learn more about IWM’s exhibitions, anniversaries and collections with hundreds of videos that tell stories of those who have lived, fought and died in conflict, from 1914 to the present day.

Visitors to IWM’s website www.iwm.org.uk will also be able to browse its world-class collections online where more than 800,000 items including artworks, documents, objects, photography, film and oral histories are available alongside stories written by IWM’s subject-leading experts.

IWM’s five branches are its flagship IWM London, IWM North, IWM Duxford, a world-renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield, Churchill War Rooms, and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast on the River Thames.