A conference charting Harrison’s early history in pendulum clock-making, which inspired him to pursue the reward offered by the Longitude Act of 1714.
Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude
- National Maritime Museum
- Special Exhibitions Gallery
Now open: major new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum
To mark the 300th anniversary of the passing of the Longitude Act in July 1714, this landmark exhibition tells the extraordinary story of the race to determine longitude (east-west position) at sea, helping to solve the problem of navigation and saving seafarers from terrible fates including shipwreck and starvation.
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A must see for lovers of science and ingenious inventions
Follow the quest to solve the world’s biggest challenge and the battle for the huge rewards of up to £20,000. Explore the rivalries and ingenious inventions of some of the greatest minds of the 17th and 18th centuries including Galileo, Isaac Newton, Captain Cook and John Harrison. Centuries later, the science they developed still influences critical areas of modern life, from satnav and mobile phones to international time zones.
Longitude Act and exhibition highlights
Exhibition highlights include the original Longitude Act of 1714 on public display for the first time ever, and a rare opportunity to see all five of John Harrison’s now legendary timekeepers together, the first to allow accurate timekeeping at sea. Also look out for stunning ship models and elegant marine fashions of the time.
Longitude events season
Join us for our Dark and Stormy Late with games, gallery tours and cocktails; go behind the scenes of Ships, Clocks and Stars with our curators, and put your navigational skills to the test in GPS workshop – all part of our Longitude season.
Recommended ReadShips, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude
This beautifully illustrated book is the official publication of the exhibition and unravels in detail the stories behind how the longitude problem was solved.
Take home a memento
Treat yourself to a Longitude souvenir.
Enjoy a bite to eat
Try the Museum Café for a selection of handmade British food from salads and sandwiches to delicious afternoon teas and home-baked cakes and pastries.