Free gallery

Essential Information

National Maritime Museum
Price Free to visit

London has been at the hub of British commerce and industry for nearly 2,000 years. This gallery looks at life on the Thames, the growth of the docklands and how institutions like Lloyd’s of London and the Baltic Exchange were formed. 

Inside the gallery

Although London is no longer a major cargo-handling port, it continues to dominate important aspects of 'invisible' trade and maritime services. Being at the centre of world time, London is able to benefit from trading with the other major financial markets, Tokyo and New York, on the same day. 

An ongoing programme of investment and redevelopment has transformed Docklands through the building of new housing, offices, shops and leisure facilities, and the provision of improved transport links and the world famous river is still at the heart of 21st century London.

A photograph showing the first page of The Tempest from Shakespeare's First Folio held in the collection of Dulwich College

Shakespeare's First Folio

See an edition of the Bard's landmark text on display, as part of a national celebration marking 400 years since its publication

​Brunel and the Great Eastern

It was both Brunel's crowning glory and ultimate downfall. Hear the story of a ship more than three times larger than any of its contemporaries, but so innovative that the world wasn't ready for it.

Shipping and ship building

Find out about when London was Britain busiest port, with a huge system of docks and wharves and a significant ship building industry.


Life in London

The Thames has always provided work for the communities along its banks, making London a rich tapestry of peoples and cultures.

Bridges and buildings

See panoramas of the Thames, plans for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Thames tunnel and the original model of Nelson’s Column.

Cargoes and commerce

London was not only a very busy port – discover how the city became home to many specialist industries and businesses serving the maritime sector.

Pomp and pageantry

The Thames provides the backdrop for many national events, from state funerals to sporting events. Find out more about London’s ‘broadest street’.

Choose your tickets

National Maritime Museum

  • Guaranteed entry time
  • Access to all free galleries and activities
  • Paid exhibitions not included
Free entry
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Member tickets

  • Free and fast-track Museums entry
  • Priority booking
  • Access using your membership card
Membership card number required
A father and son look through a porthole on the main deck of historic ship Cutty Sark

Become a Member

  • Unlimited entry all year
  • Royal Observatory
  • Cutty Sark
  • Planetarium Shows
  • Special exhibitions
Direct Debit One-off
Individual: £50 Individual: £60
Family: from £60 Family: from £70