National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Sail Away At The National Maritime Museum

Discover Britain’s seafaring history at the National Maritime Museum, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Greenwich.

Highlights

  • See the bullet-pierced Admiral’s coat worn by Nelson at Trafalgar
  • Walk across the world when you explore the Great Map set into the floor
  • Learn about WWl at sea in the Battle of Jutland gallery

What to see and do

Discover stories of pirates and adventures in Elizabethan and Stuart times

Set sail back to the early days of maritime history in the Piggott Family Gallery. Learn about the explorers, conflicts and trade via family-friendly audio and visual exhibits. A wealth of fascinating objects including early compasses, astrolabes and telescopes bring the period to life.

Explore the days of Pacific exploration in the Sackler Gallery

Learn how voyages by explorers such as Captain Cook shaped the modern Pacific regions. Paintings from the period by artists including George Stubbs give a vivid impression of the Pacific islands and their inhabitants. Listen to the stories of the islanders and admire the Fijian open ocean canoe, the drua, that allowed them to voyage great distances. Discover the infamous tale of the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Learn about Polar expeditions

Immerse yourself in a world of extreme adventures in the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Gallery, devoted to Polar exploration. Learn about the race to the North Pole and the early Antarctic expeditions. Diaries, preserved food supplies and personal belongings such as Captain Scott’s ski shoes add a fascinating human touch. Interactive exhibits consider the impact of climate change on the Polar regions and what the future may hold for these regions.

The Children’s Galleries

All aboard the AHOY! Gallery, where younger children aged 0 -7 years can explore models of ships cabins and play decks. In the All Hands! Interactive Gallery, older kids can take aim at a pirate ship and fire a cannon.

Admire Turner’s painting of the Battle of Trafalgar

The National Maritime Museum is home to a phenomenal art collection, where you can discover hundreds of works of fine art with a nautical theme. Pride of place is given to J.M.W. Turner’s largest ever painting, The Battle of Trafalgar. When first exhibited, the painting proved controversial as it emphasised the human cost of Britain’s victory over the French.

Did You Know: (5 Interesting Facts!) 

  1. The National Maritime Museum forms part of Royal Museums Greenwich, which also include the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory and the Queen’s House.
  2. The National Maritime Museum is the largest nautical museum in the world and houses a collection of over 2.5 million objects, manuscripts and works of art.
  3. The name was suggested by Rudyard Kipling, although the author died before the museum opened for the first time.
  4. One of the most famous objects owned by the Museum is the uniform coat worn by Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. The hole made by the bullet which fatally wounded him can still be seen.
  5. The museum is also home to the Caird Library and Archive, the largest library of maritime reference books in the world. The collection includes books dating back to the 1400s.

The History of the National Maritime Museum

  • The early 1800s: An art gallery is established at Greenwich
  • 1927: Saw the launch of an appeal to raise funds for the establishment of a national museum dedicated to the seafaring history of Britain.
  • The 1930s: Sir James Caird donated over 11,000 valuable maritime prints to start the museum’s collection. Ten years passed before the museum was ready to open its doors to the public.
  • 1937: The National Maritime Museum was opened by King George Vl.
  • 2011: The Sammy Ofer Wing was opened, with a new exhibition gallery and a cafe.

Facilities and Accessibility

Guide dogs are welcome in all areas of the museum. Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are located near the reception desk.

The museum is accessible to SEND visitors. Staff are trained in autism awareness. The museum is a registered Safe Place for people with learning disabilities.

All cafes and gift shops are wheelchair accessible and there are several quiet spaces in the museum for anyone who might need them. Snacks, drinks and hot meals are available at the Great Map Cafe and the Parkside Cafe and Terrace.

Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy it in the park, where you can also admire the fabulous views.