Look inside our four new galleries

Take a sneak peek inside four epic new galleries and discover the remarkable objects and stories held within.

Opening 20 September, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, Pacific Encounters and Sea Things will take you closer to our collections than ever before.

Pacific Encounters

In  Pacific Encounters, voyage to the world’s largest ocean and hear tales of exploration and exploitation. Learn more about encounters between Europeans and the Te-Moananui-a-Kiwa (people of the Pacific Ocean), and the legacies still felt today.

Hodges' War-Boats of Tahiti

William Hodges accompanied Captain Cook on his voyages to the Pacific. He worked up the sketches he made there into rich canvases which defined how Europe saw the Pacific. See Hodges' largest suriving painting.



Adi Yeta: Fijian sailing canoe

Get up close to this beautiful example of Fijian craftmanship: a double-hulled sailing canoe. Come behind the scenes:




Described by Cook as his ‘trusty friend and never failing guide’, the famous timekeeper was taken on Cook's second and third voyages to the Pacific. It was the first copy of John Harrison’s marine timekeeper ‘H4’, produced by Larcum Kendall for the Board of Longitude.

Image of K1 - marine timekeeper


Polar Worlds

In Polar Worlds, discover the challenges of Arctic and Antarctic exploration, from the Victorian era to the present. Hear stories of the brave people who tackled these extreme environments and the people that live and work there, and learn about the human impacts of the changing polar climate.

A fateful voyage

Sir John Franklin's entire crew perished during their attempt to navigate the North-West Passage in 1845. See the material left behind from the worst disaster in the history of British polar exploration.

Relics from the expedition include a sea boot, found at Starvation Cove on the mainland, where the men were reported to have resorted to cannibalism in their desperation. Also on display is a clay pipe - an early find from Beechey Island, where men camped in the winter of 1845–46 - and a medicine cabinet.

Medicine chest from Franklin expedition

Scott's fateful expedition

See relics from Captain Robert Falcon Scott's final tragic Antarctic expedition. Scott's overshoes, book bag where he kept his diary, and sledge goggles are all on display in this section.

Find out how our conservator cared for Scott's overshoes:

Percy the Penguin

Percy the stuffed Emperor penguin is just one example of Polar wildlife on display in this gallery. The most common birds living in the Antarctic, Percy was found on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica, between 1901 and 1904.

Image of Percy the penguin

Tudor and Stuart Seafarers

Britain expanded rapidly as a maritime power throughout the Tudor and Stuart periods. Discover stories of notorious pirates, exploitation, and royal patronage in the Tudor and Stuart Seafarers exhibition.

Pirate weapons

Pirates carried a range of weapons, from daggers and cutlasses to pistols and muskets. They used threats and violence to terrorise their victims. See some examples of these fiersome objects.

Image of 17th century sword

Tudor and Stuart ship models

See our collection of exquisitely-crafted Tudor and Stuart ship models demonstrating how ships evolved dramatically in this period. Included are models of the Mary Rose, arguably the most famous Tudor ship of all time, and the three-deck ship Prince Royal, the largest ship in the Navy at that time.

Watch the hanging of delicate ship models in the new gallery:


Who was Sir Francis Drake?

Was Drake a pirate or a hero? Learn more about the man behind the myth through objects Drake owned such as the Coconut Cup presented to him by Elizabeth I and the magnificent Sun hat jewel. Come behind the scenes:


Sea Things

Discover maritime history from a new point of view. Explore hundreds of objects, share stories and find your own connection to the sea.

More objects on open display than ever before

Get close and touch some extraordinary objects of the sea. 


See beautiful artwork

Artists including Tom Berry and Eve Shepherd have responded to themes of memory and the sea to produce striking contemporary artwork.

Illustration: the power of the sea by Tom Berry
The Power of the Sea by Tom Berry