On 11 May 1999 Her Majesty the Queen officially launched the National Maritime Museum into a new era.

The largest and most important museum of its kind in the world, the new National Maritime Museum is currently undergoing its final transformation stages, including the creation of twelve new galleries. Once completed, a total of sixteen galleries housed within a dramatic architectural space will tell the story of Britain and the sea and demonstrate the importance of the ocean in our lives today.

Many of the Museum's largest and most treasured exhibits will be on show for the first time, whilst interactive video and sound displays will examine new and unusual aspects of the sea. Forward-looking exhibitions include the Future of the Sea (on humankind's relationship with the oceans), Global Garden (explaining how exploration has introduced plants into our homes and medicines) and the New Visions contemporary art programme (including a sonic sculpture by Bill Fontana).

When the new National Maritime Museum opens its doors in Spring 1999, it will represent one of the first major Lottery projects to be completed before the Millennium. Richard Ormond, Director of the National Maritime Museum, says:

We are delighted that the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, as a longstanding Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, is able to accompany HM The Queen in celebrating the beginning of such an exciting era in the Museum's distinguished history.