Art, Charity and the Navy: The Greenwich and Foundling Hospitals

This one-day symposium will explore similarities in the origins, artistic involvement and philanthropic purpose of two eighteenth-century charitable hospitals with strong ties to maritime Britain. The Foundling Hospital was the first children’s charity in Britain, established in 1730s by Captain Thomas Coram, a shipwright in the American colonies. The Royal Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich, was established by royal charter in 1694 and, from 1712, also incorporated a naval school. Along with presentations and discussion with expert speakers, the day includes:

WRNS100: A journey into the archive

Celebrate 100 years of the Womens Royal Naval Service in this joint programme with the Old Royal Naval College.  Join us for an opportunity to discover the Wren and artist Gladys E. Reed’s sensitive wartime drawings that reflect ‘that busy, happy atmosphere that did exist in the WRNS’. Please note all large bags, coats, food and drink at the Museum’s main cloakroom on the Ground Floor of the Sammy Ofer Wing. 


‘The Old Father-River’: The Poetry of the Thames from 1500 to the Present Day

Chart the long history of the Thames through poetry: from the idealised Elizabethan river of Spenser, via the hopeful and despairing responses of Romantics and Victorians, through the early twentieth-century vistas of Eliot and Lawrence, right up to the remarkable sequence composed for the Millennium Bridge. The epilogue, perhaps inevitably, will be that most poignant tribute by a Londoner to his river, 'Waterloo Sunset' by Ray Davies and the Kinks. 

Maritime Lecture Series: The Wrecks of H.M. Ships Erebus and Terror

This lecture by Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archaeologist at Parks Canada and scientific lead for the study of the lost ships of the 1845 Sir John Franklin Expedition, will present on the most recent scientific findings from archaeological evidence gathered since 2014. Painstaking investigation of these two extremely well preserved wrecks is shedding light on the final days of the doomed expedition, while revealing subtile aspects of shipboard life among the imperilled crew, and the detailed manner in which the two discovery ships were outfitted for Arctic Service.

Maritime Lecture Series: Imagining the Arctic

Throughout the nineteenth century the British public frequently ‘got lost’ in the Frozen North. Leading explorers were the celebrity figures of their day and they went to great lengths to convince their audiences of the merits of polar exploration, capturing public fascinations, to persuade governments to finance ambitious proposals, and to bolster support for the Royal Navy. In theatres, in art, in verse and song, the achievements of explorers were promoted, celebrated, and manipulated, whilst explorers themselves became the subject of huge attention.

Maritime Lecture Series: Displaying the Arctic in Greenwich

This lecture will examine the ways in which the Arctic has been represented through museum displays in Greenwich for over 150 years, from the early displays of the relics of the 1845 Franklin expedition to the forthcoming Polar Worlds gallery in 2018. It will demonstrate what has changed and what has stayed the same in the interpretation of Arctic histories, through the collections of Royal Museums Greenwich, and ask whose stories have been told when and why.  

Presented by Royal Museums Greenwich curator, Claire Warrior,

Maritime Lecture Series: The Gates of Hell

Prof Andrew Lambert addresses the outstanding questions of the Franklin expedition. What happened to the 129 officers and men who sailed in the two ships? Why did the crews abandon ship on the north-west coast of King William Island? Why was the expedition entrusted to Franklin who, by his own admission, was no longer fit for exploring duty? Why was it so hard to find the remains of the expedition, then and now, and above all what purpose did this costly enterprise serve?


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