Horrible Histories® Blitzed Brits

Working with Scholastic Children’s Books, publisher of the Horrible Histories®, we developed a highly experiential, engaging and interactive exhibition on the theme of the Second World War Blitz to mark the 75th anniversary of the War. The exhibition, at the Imperial War Museum North, combined personal stories and displayed over 200 objects, photographs, art works, film and sound recordings to reveal how the Blitz brought the War to the doorsteps of Britain. Using the visual style of the Horrible Histories® brand we created a series of three-dimensional immersive environments to lead visitors on a physical journey through the Blitz.


Imperial War Museum


Interpretation Masterplan
Research and Copywriting
Exhibition Design
Graphic Design
Digital Strategy
Interactive Design
Design of Print and Publications
Project Management

Scottish Design Awards
Winner, 2016


The exhibition was aimed at a family and inter-generational audience and we focused the experience on the needs of children. To avoid a ‘book on the wall’ approach, we created a fully immersive three-dimensional environment through a series of different sets. Visitors can explore ‘The Street’ with its shops offering rationed goods, enter the two-storey House set for Christmas 1940 – two days after the Manchester Blitz, or take a seat in the Dig for Victory Garden, where a giant pair of knickers drying on a washing line provides the backdrop to a propaganda film.

“A show from the comical Horrible Histories team has jokey games but also affecting exhibits that bring home the tragedy of the Blitz. It’s brilliantly done and children
(and, frankly, adults) will love it.”

The Times

Sensory engagement

We employed the key characters of Rattus and his hapless sidekick, Pigeon, to guide visitors around the exhibition. Appearing as 3d figures in each of the zones, Rattus and Pigeon reveal some of the terrible truths behind the catastrophic conflict. Sight, sound and smell were integrated throughout: visitors sniff their way through the stinky smells from the pig bins, mix up ingredients to explore the smells of wartime cooking, take cover in an air raid shelter when they hear the siren and climb aboard the train to be evacuated to the countryside. Large scale objects such as a life-sized barrage balloon, ambulance lorry and a Bofors anti-aircraft gun created dramatic focal points throughout the exhibition.

“We thought that Blitzed Brits was truly magnificent being a real hands-on exhibition for children of all ages and providing so many learning opportunities. I cannot recommend the exhibition highly enough; it is one of the most child-focused and friendly exhibitions that I have been to.”

Five Adventurers – Inspirational Travel with Kids!

Learning through doing

The exhibition was devised to bring the Blitz to life and included lots of hands-on interactives designed to engage a wide range of ages and abilities. Visitors could race a bicycle to beat a messenger pigeon, defuse a bomb and milk a life-sized cow as an evacuee. We also designed an interactive Survival Guide for children to undertake different activities at a series of Survival Stations positioned in each of the exhibition zones. With top tips and clever clues, each Survival Station guided children on their journey to survive the Blitz. A visitor feedback area at the end of the exhibition allowed for contemplation, a place to leave feedback and to share memories and experiences.

“Blitzed Brits is a brilliant exhibition, and I am full of admiration for all the imagination and sheer hard work that had gone into making it into a huge success.”

Sir Francis Richards, Chairman Imperial War Museum

Discover More

Adventure Planet

National Museums Scotland

Provost Skene’s House

Aberdeen City Council

Dressed to Deliver

The Postal Museum