(CNN) — The history of warfare is intertwined with that of mankind.
And while, unfortunately, war is not a rare occurrence in history, it remains one of the most traumatic experiences that a nation and its inhabitants can endure.
No wonder then that museums have been set up around the world to preserve the memory of armed conflicts and the people who fought in them.
Here is a list of some of the most remarkable ones.
Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. We had to leave many great museums out to not end up with an impossibly long list.
Also not included, despite their undeniable historical interest, are interpretation centers found at battle sites, memorials and other places of remembrance. That is, perhaps, a story for another day.
Imperial War Museum, London
Although obviously focused on the topic of war, IWM staff do not describe it as a military museum, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.
“IWM London is a social history museum that explores how modern conflict has affected entire societies, from the front lines to the home fronts, using its rich collection — objects, artworks, interviews with survivors, letters, diaries and much more — to tell compelling personal stories,” explains Laura Clouting, senior curator at IWM.
From the huge naval guns that welcome its visitors — relics from battleship HMS Ramillies — to immersive recreations of WWI and WWII scenes — IWM London is capable of captivating visitors far beyond the military enthusiast.
Other IWM sites in London include the Churchill War Rooms, the underground command center from which the war effort was directed, as well as HMS Belfast, a WWII-era cruiser permanently anchored next to Tower Bridge.
Also part of the IWM network, IWM Duxford, near Cambridge, covers all aspects of the air war, while IWM North, in Manchester, explores the impact of war on people and society.
Not under the Imperial War Museum umbrella, but also in London and well worth a visit, are the Royal Air Force Museum London, and the National Army Museum, adjacent to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ, England; +44 20 7416 5000
National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri
As 2017 marks the centenary of the United States’ entry into the Great War, this museum, designated by Congress in 2014 as the Nation’s WWI museum, acquires a special relevance.
Before entering the National WWI Museum’s main gallery, visitors cross over a symbolic poppy field commemorating the war’s dead.
“We are quite unique among WWI museums in the diversity of our collection. Our encyclopaedic approach means that we are collecting items, over 75,000 of them, from all belligerents. We are not focusing exclusively on the American experience,” says Dr. Matthew Naylor, the museum’s president.
After undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion about a decade ago, the museum has seen visitor numbers surge and has become the top tourist attraction in Kansas City.
The centrally located, 47-acre museum grounds are also a venue for civic activities and events throughout the year. Visitors can also enjoy some of the best views of Kansas City from the top of the 217-foot Liberty Memorial Tower.
National WWI Museum and Memorial, 2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, Missouri; +1 816-888-8100
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England
The museum is spread across several locations.
In addition to the museum proper, Portsmouth is home to three interesting historical vessels: HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar and the oldest naval vessel still in commission, HMS Warrior, a rare example of mid-19th century hybrid sail-and-steam naval technology and HMS M.33, a survivor of the Gallipoli Campaign in WWI.
Royal Marines Museum is part of NMRN but public galleries are currently closed to visitors and a new museum will open in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in spring 2020
Other branches include the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in nearby Gosport, the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, Somerset and HMS Caroline in Belfast.
National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth PO1 3NH, England; +44 23 9289 1370
Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Moscow
The complex, set in the midst of Park Pobedy (Victory Park), in west-central Moscow, was inaugurated in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end.
Among the most impressive features of this museum are the three large commemorative halls. The central one is dedicated to all those who received the award of Hero of the Soviet Union. The other two remember the more than 26 million dead on the Soviet side and the key commanders of the Red Army during the war.
Also remarkable, and complementing the museum’s exhibits, are several huge, realistic paintings that depict, on an epic scale, some of the key battles of the war.
Museum of the Great Patriotic War, ul Bratiev Fonchenko 10, Moscow, Russia; +7 499 449-81-07
Les Invalides, Paris
French military grandeur has its home in the Hôtel des Invalides, near the banks of the Seine in the heart of Paris.
This impressive complex, whose main building is topped by a golden dome, was built in the 17th century on the orders of King Louis XIV.
The Musée de l’Armée contains galleries dedicated to arms and armor ranging from the 13th to the 17th century.
Les Invalides, Place des Invalides, 75007 Paris, France
Museum of Military History, Vienna, Austria
Few countries rival Austria when it comes to a pivotal role in European history.
The museum’s original aim was to highlight Austria’s role as a military superpower, but collections have been periodically updated to also cover the two World Wars, the inter-war period and the Cold War.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable items on display is the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering the start of WWI.
Museum of Military History, Arsenal Objekt 1, 1030 Vienna, Austria; +43 1 795610
National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida
It is hard to overstate the role naval aviation has played in providing the United States with the capability to project power around the world.
But it’s not essential to enlist in the Navy to experience the might of naval airpower.
The museum features more than 150 restored aircraft used by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
National Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, Florida 3250; 1 850-452-3604
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels, Belgium
The hazards of geography turned tiny Belgium into a battlefield during the two World Wars. As a result, Belgium is now endowed with a dense concentration of war sites as well as a first-rate military museum.
The museum hosts a large collection of weapons and armor that spans from the Middle Ages to the present. The very latest addition to the collection: a F-16 fighter jet.
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, 1000 Brussels, Belgium; +32 2 737 78 11
Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This rather small, but very interesting museum next to Amsterdam’s historical center is the odd one on the list, as it deals with a usually unreported aspect of war: life and death behind enemy lines.
Although focused on the Dutch experience during the occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany in WWII, the resistance and occupation theme is something many nations across Europe can relate to.
Dutch Resistance Museum, Plantage Kerklaan 61A, 1018 CX, Amsterdam, Netherlands; +31 20 620 2535
National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia
If boots on the ground win wars, Fort Benning has a lot to do with it.
This is a proper journey through American history, from the War of Independence to the present.
The latest addition, to be unveiled in October, will be a memorial to the global war on terrorism. It will feature a steel beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center as well as the names of all service members killed in service since 9/11.
National Infantry Museum, 1775 Legacy Way, Columbus, Georgia; +1 706-685-5800
National Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
Hundreds of aircraft are displayed at the museum, including not only some of the most iconic combat aircraft of all time, but also a few rare prototypes, such as the impressive-looking XB-70 Valkyrie, as well as several presidential aircraft.
B-17 Memphis Belle, of eponymous movie fame, is also part of the collection. After undergoing restoration it will be back on display on May 17, 2018, 75 years to the date after the crew completed its last mission of World War II.
National Museum of the US Air Force, 1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, Ohio 45431; +1 937-255-3286
National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia
The US Marine Corps has been the spearhead of America’s power since the very early days of the nation’s existence.
Over 200 years of accomplishments of the US Marine Corps are thoroughly documented and explained in this museum through a series of immersive exhibits covering the major historical conflicts in which Marines have seen action. Visitors can also get a glimpse of the distinctive and intense training that it takes to “make a Marine.”
National Museum of the Marine Corps, 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Triangle, Virginia 22172; +1 703-432-1775