In January and February 2022, Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura became the National Maritime Museum’s first LGBTQ+ Family in Residence.

During their residency, they worked with artist Jenny Staff to create a family-friendly workshop for Out at Sea, our annual LGBTQ+ family festival.

From exploring the Museum's collections to making a rainbow boat, discover some of their highlights from the project.


Week one: finding inspiration

To gather ideas, Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura explored the National Maritime Museum, visiting the Sea Things and Pacific Encounters galleries.

"We talked about the project and thought about the families' interests and what makes a family," they say.

Following their visit, they outlined some key values and ideas for the workshop. It needed to be: 

  • accessible
  • open
  • a space for people to explore and do their own thing without too many instructions
  • something where families could work together and think about what they would take on a journey, what is important to them and what they value
  • an activity where families make something to bring together in one piece, like containers that could be put on a large ship so that everyone is travelling together


Week two: designing the workshop

Family gathered around a crafting table

With a vision in place, the family began planning fun activities for the families attending the festival.

Ideas included making a pilot box, which families could fill with objects and crafted items that were important to them. In their box, Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura included:

  • A depiction of each family member
  • A special mention that having two mums made them special
  • A tree to represent the fun they have playing outside
  • A beloved unicorn toy which is part of the family
  • A miniature model box of Lego which they love to play with
  • A rug inspired by one they have at home

"We discussed what we wanted families to think about when they were making their boxes," they say. "For example, what is special/unique to their family and how could we break down this question to make it more manageable?

"What special meals do they enjoy, do the family have pets/animals, what games do they like to play together? We also wanted them to include their family name or a motto on the front of the box to decorate that part too."


Week three: preparing for Out at Sea 

In this session, Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura set to work creating the centrepiece of the workshop: a boat called 'The Welcome'. 

Complete with a rainbow design and sparkly masts, the colourful boat would showcase the pilot boxes made by families at the festival.

Week four: Out at Sea family festival

Family standing in front of a rainbow ship

On the day of the festival, Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura first invited the LGBTQ+ Family Network to try out their workshop. Aden and Dylan took the lead, explaining the activity and handing out materials to the families.

The Out at Sea festival takes place each year at the National Maritime Museum as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. Suitable for families of all ages, the event celebrates queer histories at sea through craft workshops, storytelling, performances and more.

As the day progressed, all visiting families were invited to join in and make their own creations. At the end of the festival, 'The Welcome’ was jam-packed with artworks, representing a huge number of families.

For Aden, Dylan, Julia and Laura, the experience of being the National Maritime Museum's first LGBTQ+ Family in Residence was incredibly rewarding:

“I loved it! The boat was a great success and at the end the boat looked amazing. My favourite cabin was the one with the whale or the one with the big boat in.” 


"We had so much fun planning the workshop with Jenny… the kids would talk about 'how many sleeps' it would be until the next time we met up with Jenny, so that gives you an idea of how excited they were. Being Family in Residence clearly gave them a sense of pride, especially when Aden confirmed with Jenny that we were the 'only special family' doing the project."