Compass Lounge

The Compass Lounge

Compass icon

Take time to explore our vast collection and enjoy free wifi in the comfort of the Compass Lounge. Using new technology in a way that is intuitive and easy to understand, the Compass Lounge and Compass Card open up the Museum’s objects and archives and demonstrate the connections between diverse histories and people. 

Location: National Maritime Museum ground floor

Open daily, 10.00–17.00 (last admission 16.30). Admission free.

Indigo: Cargoes and Culture

Indigo: Cargoes and Culture has been created by young people from local schools and further education colleges, working with artists, designers, curators, the Learning team from the National Maritime Museum, and tutors and students from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.

Using Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle as a starting point, the students used the collections of the Museum to explore the history of dye-stuffs as a commodity, particularly indigo. The aim was to make links between its origins, production and trade  and the subject of Empire, with the Navy – dressed in navy-blue, indigo-dyed uniforms – representing the imperial power that protected this trade.

Participants explored the archives, the uniform collection and our galleries to find their own inspiration, and created their responses in a series of prints, photographs, illustrations and animations. Indigo: Cargoes and Culture, is the National Maritime Museum’s second collaboration with the Widening Participation team from University of the Arts London.

University of the Arts London (UAL) logo

The Compass Card

The Compass Card reveals the hidden connections between people and the objects in the collection.

Every visitor is given their own Compass Card – the size of a credit card – with a unique barcode. As you move throughout the museum you can collect objects that interest you by inserting the card into dedicated units placed in the galleries. Follow up in the Compass Lounge or at home to reveal hidden stories and archival material:

If you register your card you will be sent a free ebook reflecting the objects collected on your visit.

Horizon screen

Horizon screen coins

Over 4000 images from five collections are displayed within this horizon, grouped by visual similarity. This aesthetic arrangement began by using ‘computer vision’ software from the University of Dundee to extract and compare colour and texture information.

This view transcends Museum classifications, allowing thousands of objects to be seen without imposed interpretation. Representing collections in this way exposes patterns: for example, ordering ship models by texture exposes technological development, seen in the clusters of sails, oars and masts. Looking through the layers of flags, it becomes clear that their restricted colour palette was honed to improve visibility at sea.

Compass Lounge - the plan chest

The plan chest

The plan chest is a physical embodiment of the Museum’s Collections website. Wooden drawers are pulled out to reveal large digital touchscreens – each showing some of the most popular objects on Collections Online. By changing to reflect online activity – how many times objects have been viewed, shared, added to a personal collection or tagged – the plan chest showcases the collection in use.

Smaller screens display individual curator’s top picks from the museum, acting as mini galleries that can respond to specific events or exhibitions. Visitors can create their own galleries at