Centre for Imperial & Maritime Studies

Centre for Imperial and Maritime Studies

'A new and accurat map of the world...', John Speed, 1626 (detail)

The National Maritime Museum has established a new research centre for imperial and maritime studies which aims to:

  • support and advance excellence in research on the Museum's world-class imperial and maritime collections
  • encourage interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the sea and empire
  • promote a scholarly agenda to develop a broader understanding of Britain's imperial and maritime history and its legacies
  • engage a wider public audience with the research through contribution to galleries and exhibitions, online activity and audience engagement programmes, as well as through scholarly publications.

Facilities, fellowships and research partnerships

The National Maritime Museum holds the world’s largest and pre-eminent maritime research collection, comprising oil paintings, prints and drawings, applied and decorative arts, navigational and scientific instruments, charts and maps, historic photographs, textiles, furniture, ship models, ship plans, weapons and artefacts. The library houses over 100,000 specialist volumes and an extensive manuscript and rare book collection.

The Centre encourages research on these collections, and in related areas, through an established programme of fellowships offering awards of between three months and two years.

The Museum has an active programme of conferences, seminars and workshops.

In January 2006 the Museum was awarded Academic Analogue status by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Centre’s staff seek to build on this by developing high-quality research projects, independently and in partnership with other academic institutions.

Research projects

The Centre supports a wide range of research. Recent projects include:

In partnership with a range of universities, the Museum has also been successfully awarded a number of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded 'Collaborative Doctoral Awards', with students currently studying a range of topics relating to the Museum's collections:

  • The culture of cruising: post-war images of Oceanic Cruises in the NMM Film Archive
  • Accommodating the Passenger: Interior Design for the Union Castle Line, 1945–1977
  • Anti-slavery and the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean, 1810–90: race, empire and identity
  • Anti-slavery and the Royal Navy in the Atlantic Ocean, 1810–90: race, empire and identity
  • Steam after slavery: The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in the post-emancipation Caribbean, 1834–70
  • Popular narratives of exploration in children’s literature from the 18th to the 20th century
  • Exploring Histories: Polar Exploration and the construction of History at the NMM

Advisory Board

  • Professor Huw Bowen, University of Leicester
  • Professor Trevor Burnard, University of Sussex
  • Professor Catherine Hall, University College London
  • Professor Roger Knight, University of Greenwich
  • Professor Andrew Lambert, King’s College London
  • Dr Margarette Lincoln, National Maritime Museum
  • Professor Andrew Porter, King’s College London
  • Dr Nigel Rigby, National Maritime Museum (Head of Centre)

Forthcoming events

The Centre organizes the British Maritime History Seminars held each year at the Institute of Historical Research, as well as a range of one-off lectures, conferences and seminars.

For more details, visit the conferences page.


Research Administrator
Centre for Imperial and Maritime Studies
National Maritime Museum
London SE10 9NF
Tel: 020 8312 6716
Fax: 020 8312 6592
E-mail: research@rmg.co.uk

'A new and accurat map of the world...', John Speed, 1626 (detail)