Ten things you should know about the National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum is the largest maritime museum in the world and home to treasures such as Nelson’s Trafalgar uniform, the Caird Library and Archive and Turners's largest painting.

  1. The National Maritime Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the world, with a vast collection that spans artworks, maps and charts, memorabilia and thousands of other objects.
  2. The idea for the National Maritime Museum dates back to 1927, when a public appeal was launched to develop a ‘national naval and nautical museum’.
  3. The Museum’s name was suggested by Rudyard Kipling, although the writer passed away a year before it opened.
  4. The Museum buildings began life in 1807 as a school for the children of seafarers, and the South-West Wing was built as a dining hall in 1876.
  5. The Museum was opened by King George VI in 1937. His young daughter Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, was also in attendance.
  6. The uniform Lord Admiral Nelson was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar is on display at the Museum in the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery. It is one of our most famous objects.
  7. The National Maritime Museum collection holds over 2.5 million items including astronomical and navigational instruments, ship models and plans, coins, medals and flags, uniforms and weapons, plus historical art, film and photography.
  8. Among the collection of artworks are famous paintings by Great Masters such as J.M.W. Turner, William Hodges, George Stubbs, Willem van de Veldes (Elder and Younger), Hans Holbein, William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough. 
  9. The Museum houses the Caird Library and Archive, the world’s largest maritime historical reference library (100,000 volumes) including books dating back to the 15th century.
  10. The opening of the Museum's Sammy Ofer Wing in 2011, the glass fronted annex which overlooks Greenwich Park, was the biggest development in our history. It saw the addition of our special exhibition gallery.