Find out about Royal Museums Greenwich's mission, responsibilities and objectives
Building Reach, Reputation and Resilience
Our key content themes are articulated in pictorial form here, and the narrative below provides further information.
Interpreted through our collections and shared expertise, these are the filter through which potential activities (e.g., exhibitions, programmes, publications) are viewed.
They will help us to move from big ideas to specific stories and content, and provide coherence, efficiency, inspiration, and connectivity.
Our watery planet is uniquely situated and suited to the evolution of life. Human beings, originally from the tropics of Africa, have populated almost every corner of the globe. In doing so, we have adapted to the adversities of climate and the harshness of physical environments – from scorching deserts to frozen tundra, from dense jungles to the open ocean – exploring, surviving, adapting and thriving. Many great migrations – across the Pacific Ocean, for example – involved long sea voyages, posing unique challenges and requiring people to work with natural systems like tides, currents and winds. Ultimately, our ability to adapt has led us the ends of the Earth and to venture beyond into space, where we look for life and the potential for human settlement in other places. But from the irradiated waste of orbital space to the barren surface of Mars and beyond, it seems nowhere is quite like home. However, the human drive for expansion and the inexorable exploitation of the natural world on an industrial scale have their costs. Environmental damage, pollution and the climate crisis are direct results of this activity. Together they have created new and worsening adversities, including melting ice caps and rising seas, which threaten the habitability of this planet and the future survival of humanity. Can humans move from an expansionary mode to living within the sustainable limits of the environment?
Our identities make us human. They shape who we are, forging and sustaining communities at personal, local, national and global levels, bringing us together and setting each of us apart. Communities of identity embrace and cut across gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, life experience and religious belief. They foster bonds of friendship, wellbeing, imagination and an essential sense of belonging. Even when looking out into space, we strive for connection and meaning, asking ourselves are we alone? Our diversity also brings inequality and difference into sharp relief. Barriers of prejudice and discrimination perpetuate both privilege and disadvantage, creating fear, resentment and entitlement. Our collections have often been shaped by those with the most power, making them partial and representative only of particular perspectives, diminishing the agency and contributions of many others. However, by exploring, appreciating and celebrating individual and collective diversity, we can nurture greater equality, understanding and accessibility, helping everyone to find their place in our museum, in our world and in the wider universe.
Humans are uniquely curious and creative beings. We explore, seek to understand and respond imaginatively to the world around us, producing works of art that reflect upon and question our humanity. We rise to the challenges presented by changing circumstances and new environments, finding inventive ways to solve problems through the application of science and technology.
For many people, the sea and the sky represent two vast canvases of imaginative possibility, inspiring innovation in art and science in equal measure. For artists and writers, depicting and describing the restless, translucent sea tests their skills and creativity. At the same time, overcoming the difficulties and dangers of a sea voyage requires ingenious practical solutions. Doing so has allowed us to access the far reaches of the globe, fulfilling the instinctive human hunger for knowledge and understanding. Our ingenuity has helped to unlock some of the secrets of the night sky, allowing advances to be made in navigation, timekeeping, astronomy and space exploration. However, as scientists probe deeper into the seeming infinity of space, we are increasingly questioning our place in the Universe and the precarious and precious nature of life on Earth.