Within an hour or two you will be able to uncover highlights such as the bloodstained (and surprisingly small) coat that Admiral Nelson was wearing when he died at the Battle of Trafalgar, exhibits on the British love affair with the sea, and a compelling display examining Britain’s role in the slave trade.
The National Maritime Museum is the largest and most important museum of its kind in the world. It is housed among the historic buildings of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and incorporates the Royal Observatory and 17th century Queen's House - England's first classical building and a rare surviving example of the work of architect Inigo Jones.
The museum's exhibition areas celebrate maritime heritage and aim to show visitors the importance of the ocean in our lives today.
For more - see our Greenwich page.
Looking out over Greenwich park is one of the greatest maritime museums of the world - The National Maritime Museum in London, containing models, displays, paintings and trophies from every continent of the world.
Part of the King William Court, this was planned to be the hospital's dining hall. Wren submitted the designs in 1698, and the roof and the dome above were already in place five years later.
Sir James Thornhill, who decorated the inside of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, was commissioned to decorate the Hall, which was intended as a dining hall for the sailors. He started work in 1708 and did not finish until nineteen years later in 1727. Thornhill shows his remarkable skill in the use of trompe l’oeil painting throughout the Painted Hall – on the columns, window sills and in the grisaille works in the Vestibule and Upper Hall.
For his ‘great and laborious undertaking’ he was only paid £3 per square yard for the ceiling, and £1 per square yard for the walls. This still amounted to £16,000, and earnt him a knighthood from the Queen, the first English painter to receive such an honour.
While Thornhill worked, more and more pensioners were coming to Greenwich. Pensioners could not eat in the Hall while he was working and it was both too grand and too much of a tourist attraction when finished.
The Painted Hall stood empty until January 1806, when the body of Admiral Lord Nelson was brought here to lie in state for three days, 5–7 January 1806, viewed by (reports say) 30,000 members of the public. His body was then taken by river to St Paul’s Cathedral for the state funeral the following day. Today a plaque marks the spot where his body lay.
In 1824 the Hall became the ‘National Gallery of Naval Art’ or Naval Gallery for short – and remained so until 1930s, when its contents were transferred to the newly created National Maritime Museum. By 1939 the Painted Hall was once again in use as a dining room. It remained in daily use until the Royal Navy's departure in 1998. Today visitors share it again during the day as do those who come to special evening events to eat in ‘the finest dining hall in Europe’.
A superb museum for anyone, particularly those with an interest in maritime matters & history.
There is a central, ground floor area charting the rise of London & Britain as a maritime power, showing how the City developed over the centuries, changing the look of the area around the Thames & the creation of the wharves & docks. A board summarises the timeline in London Thames' development & importance.
Lord Nelson is also recognised, together with a display of the very coat he was wearing when he received the fatal musket wound. The offending bullet itself is displayed in Windsor Castle.
In other section on the ground floor you can see various boats, including some very ornate royal barges, record-breaking powerboats, etc.
One can learn how cargo ships evolved over the years, with scaled models of the various types around. Also, there are excellent models of old style ship building yards.
Then, there is an Arctic zone which is very well recreated, enabling one to feel the perils of seafaring in those harsh, unforgiving parts of the oceans. One can see accounts of the Dutch voyager Barents & the Danish one Bering, with a sea named after each of these two explorers.
Further, there is thorough explanation of how the different European powers were motivated to seek out far away lands to consolidate their empires and monopolies of global trade routes & raw materials.
You can find a brilliant display of a topographical model of the world, with the main goods seeked out from each particular zone, eg gold from Central & South America, spices from India & the Middle East, etc.
In another section, you can learn about bouyancy (from the large, water-filled tank), how tsunamis are formed, the various types of waves, whirlpools, etc.
Upstairs you can find the magnificent stained glass dome of the now demolished (following an explosion) Baltic Exchange.
There is also a children's play area in the open, middle section.
Also, there are displays all around with various ship memorabilia.
A traditional museum about the maritime history. Actualy it was smaller than I expected. Because the Maritime history is such an important part of British history. The objects on display are very beautiful; like the instruments for navigation from all over the world. It's a very authentic museum. But I sometimes miss the context (interpretation) in which the objects can be placed in history.
Tip: At the website you can find extra information. Visit and read the website before visiting this museum.
Admision is free
The National Maritime Museum again is not the typical i staid collection of nautical artifact, its one of those few interactive, hands-on family museum.
Although in some parts the museum just displays painting and old films,, the museum really has created dozens of kid-friendly exhibits--areas where children can both play and learn about maritime history. My favorite is the Explorers Gallery, The All Hands children's gallery and The Bridge where little sailors can steer a ship into port through a simulator.
If you don't have kids well, you can also enjoy a more relaxed visit, where you can visit some artifacts from the Titanic ( I love anything Titanic related) , or see Nelson's bullet pierced coat from the Battle of Trafalgar, and the original paintings and instruments from Captain Cook's voyages. There are a lot of places that are more for the real maritime history buffs, you won't be disappointed.
A worthwhile experience, and by the way The National Maritime Museum is the largest maritime museum in the world.
Occupying the west wing of the Queen's House in Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum traces 500 years of British seafaring history. Exhibits are divided into several galleries, including maps and charts, naval uniforms and ship models. The Battle of Trafalgar is re-created in one gallery.
Admission is free. Open daily from 1000 to 1700.
This is one of my favourite museums in London, simply because Britain is and long has been a strong seafaring nation and a lot of it started here at Greenwich. Here you will find so many interesting things on British history since it has happened at sea, not least a prime exhibit in the form of Nelson's own blood stained trousers from the Battle of Trafalgar! :))) Lots of items from other famous battles (including Falklands) and expeditions can be seen as well as ship models and an exhibition on the slave trade and the importance of navigation. The museum shop has an excellent collection of books on maritime things and gadgets found on ships. The museum also runs the Observatory up the hill where you can see the famous World "0" Meridian and lots of navigational and astronomical instruments. That I personally find boring since I don't follow the mathematics as much as I'd like, but it is nevertheless moving to be at the Epicentre of the World :) You can also visit nearby Queen's House which Inigo Jones designed for James I's Queen Anne in the grounds of the old Tudor palace, and which has been further decorated since then. I have not yet visited so on that I cannot give a personal account but it is known for painted ceilings and other art works.
Greenwich is the home of the largest maritime museum in the world. Really worth a visit! At the moments you can feel there like somewhere close to the sea, as near the main entrance you will hear sea sound all the time. Good trick:)
For children: on the second floor (3 Level) children will have lots of fun and perhaps won't like to leave soon, as there they can try many interesting things on their own.
Admission is FREE.
The National Maritime Museum holds the largest collection of marine art in the world. It was originally collected to illustrate the rise of British seapower from the Spanish Armada, through the period of colonial expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you want to know about a particular painting or artist, there is an interactive library section where you can look for it.
But the primary things we enjoyed were the interactive exhibits - game type things where you shoot missiles, quiz type ones, and even stuff like a pretend corridor in a ship where they have a persons name and job on the doors (cabin steward, purser, captain) and you open the door and see the uniform that person would wear and hear a recorded message about them. They had model ships, and paintings, dioramas, including two family groups of emigrants with their luggage - one steerage and one-first class. There were also decorated royal barges, and the uniform Nelson wore when he was killed with holes and bloodstains.
The museum is now free and is open every day except Dec 24, 25, and 26 from10.00 to 17.00 (18.00 in summer)
I took this picture before I realized that I wasn't supposed to take pictures inside the museum.
Greenwich Maritime Museum has a terrific hands-on section for kids. Our 2 kids thought it was one of the highlights of our England trip. The rest of the museum has very good explanations of each exhibit. Take the boat to get there - it was a nice day trip from London. Arts & crafts fair on the weekends is fun to look at too.
This is perhaps one of the best museums I've ever visited. The whole exhebition is interesting, allows the visitor to be active and you actually learn something. Various exhibitions are offered, ranging from the history of transatlantic crossings by boat to 'How do the tides work?'. I absolutely recommend you to spend at least 1.5 hour in this place and don't forget, the entrance is FREE!! So don't miss it!
This museum in London is a must if you've any type of fondness for the sea or the history of Britain's maritime might. It was expanded in recent years and now holds thousands of ship models, paintings, charts and ship plans. Many different galleries to explore including the Nelson Gallery showing everything to do with Horatio Nelson. For the morbid you can even view the coat he was wearing when he was killed, complete with bullet hole.
Guided tours are available or you can wander about on your own, my preferred way of visiting museums.
Various temporary exhibits come and go from this museum and I was lucky enough to see the Elizabeth I exhibit while it was on from May to Sept 2003. 2003 was the 400th anniversary of Elizabeth's death.
I love reading about the history of the age of Elizabeth I and this exhibit gave me the opportunity to view objects associated with her life and time on the throne. Also in the exhibit were items of her mother, Anne Boleyn. I am especially intrigued by Elizabeth and Anne because we supposedly come from a common ancestor on the Boleyn line.
My favourite part of the exhibit was viewing the Armada portrait, a painting of Elizabeth with a view of the Armada behind her, a painting I'd seen in history books my whole life. Suddenly, there it was right in front of me, quite a thrill I must say.
Once you've finished touring the Martime Museum head up the Hill to the Royal Observatory for one of the best views of London. My cousin drives to work past this hill and then in front of the museum and he says it's the best part of his day as it's such a beautiful view.
The Museum includes the Queen's House a 17th Century bulding and the Observatory.
Admission to the National Maritime Museum is free though you will pay for special temporary exhibits.