This self-guided route takes you through many of the National Maritime Museum's free galleries, and should take around 1-2 hours to complete. Best suited for adults, history lovers and intrepid explorers.

Click the links below to skip to a particular gallery, or scroll through to see all the places you can see during your visit. You can learn more about the objects on display by following one of our dedicated audio guides or joining a daily gallery tour.

Route details

Start: in the Sea Things gallery on the first floor.

End: in the Atlantic Worlds gallery.

Gallery stops:

  1. Sea Things
  2. Pacific Encounters
  3. Polar Worlds
  4. Tudor and Stuart Seafarers
  5. Nelson, Navy, Nation
  6. Forgotten Fighters
  7. Traders
  8. Atlantic Worlds

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Sea Things

Located on Level 1

What's your connection to the sea? The objects in the Sea Things gallery offer hundreds of ways for you to find an answer. This gallery focus on quirky, poignant and unexpected objects, from a coat hook made from an albatross beak to a pocketwatch belonging to a victim of the Titanic disaster

Pacific Encounters

Located on Level 1

Voyage across the world’s largest ocean and hear stories from the island communities who call it home in the Pacific Encounters gallery. Learn about encounters between Europeans and the Te-Moananui-a-Kiwa (peoples of the Pacific Ocean), and how the legacies of those encounters are still felt today.

Polar Worlds

Located on Level 2

The Polar Worlds gallery looks at the history of Arctic and Antarctic exploration, and examines how humans have adapted to life in the most challenging environments on Earth. The polar regions have been a focus for scientific enquiry and exploration for centuries: as we confront the consequences of climate change, understanding that history is more important than ever.

Tudor and Stuart Seafarers

Located on Level 2

Exploration, adventure, conflict, wealth and exploitation - chart a course through seafaring history in the Tudor and Stuart Seafarers gallery.

The gallery looks at the rise of Britain as a leading maritime power, whose wealth and prosperity were intimately connected to the sea. More than 130 objects help tell this story, from the Spanish Armada to the growth of an empire.

Nelson, Navy, Nation

Located on Level 2

From bustling dockyards to ferocious sea battles, the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery brings to life the tumultuous 18th century, exploring how the Royal Navy shaped everyday lives and became a central part of society. During this period seafarers became heroes and celebrities, and none more so than one man: Horatio Nelson. The gallery also includes personal items belonging to Nelson, including the uniform he was wearing when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Forgotten Fighters

Located on Level 2

The First World War saw conflict and bloodshed on an unprecedented scale. While the slaughter on the Western Front most immediately comes to mind, the war at sea was vital element of the ultimate Allied victory. The Forgotten Fighters gallery shines a light on the seafarers and vessels that served during this period.

Traders: the East India Company and Asia

Located on Level 1

Interior view of the Traders gallery at the National Maritime Museum, with a sculpture in the foreground

For over 250 years, the East India Company shaped trade between Britain and Asia, becoming enormously wealthy in the process and even taking on pirates with its own navy.

The Traders gallery looks at the commodities the company traded, the people who shaped its tumultuous career and the conflicts and rebellions that were its ultimate undoing, as well as its continuing impact on the world today.

Atlantic Worlds

Located on Level 1

An 18th century portrait of a black man dressed in fine clothes and wig and carrying a sword. Music sheets and a string instrument are in the background

The transatlantic slave trade changed communities and cultures around the Atlantic Ocean, and its legacy is still felt throughout the world. The National Maritime Museum hosts an annual commemoration on 23 August as part of the UNESCO International Slavery Remembrance Day.

The Atlantic Worlds gallery originally opened in 2007 to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, and is currently undergoing a review. Until then, you can explore some of the gallery's hidden stories by listening to the Freedom Fighters audio guide.

Make the most of your day

Stop for lunch

Refresh at the Parkside Café on the ground floor of the Museum and choose from a range of hot meals, sandwiches and salads.

Browse the bookshelves

Check out the books in the Museum gift shop or see the full range online.

If you want to spend a bit more time exploring stories of the sea, the Caird Library houses the world's largest maritime library and archive collection. You'll need to register for a Reader's Ticket in advance.

Extra time?

As well as the permanent galleries, the National Maritime Museum is home to a number of special exhibitions and free displays. Check out what will be on show on the date of your visit.

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Visit Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum isn't the only reason to visit historic Greenwich. Discover the best that the UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer

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Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, but we recommend booking tickets online in advance to guarantee entry and receive updates before you visit.

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