Recently, two misleading stories ran in the national press about the National Maritime Museum, relating to sculptures in the Sea Things gallery (a permanent gallery that opened in 2018) and our LGBTQ+ History Month events. A series of derivative articles followed in other publications and media which did not pick up on the misrepresentation, and consequently were based on incomplete information.

The National Maritime Museum has no changes planned regarding its commentary and presentation on Nelson.

Admiral Lord Nelson is a fundamental part of the Museum’s collections and narratives. He remains the most prominent and well represented figure within the National Maritime Museum, with an entire permanent gallery called ‘Nelson, Navy, Nation’ dedicated to the naval hero, celebrating his life and accomplishments. The Museum has supported and created multiple publications and exhibitions devoted to aspects of Nelson’s life and actively works with scholars, the public and the media to sustain awareness of his achievements and the legacies of these. Most recently, in 2016/17 the Museum held the acclaimed exhibition ‘Seduction and Celebrity’ featuring Nelson’s famous relationship with Emma Hamilton.

Being a well-known and much-admired historical figure, Nelson has been used as a starting point to engage new audiences. While the Museum approaches its historical stories from an evidence-based position, it also gives space to more emotive and creative responses to people, events and objects, as a way of engaging audiences.

As a National Museum, the Museum’s commitment to diversity and equality is long standing and in line with the Equality Act of 2010. The Act requires cultural organisations to reflect the full range of backgrounds and perspectives found in our society and to engage with as wide an audience as possible. Maritime history is world history, where the oceans create an interconnection between peoples around the globe. The Museum’s collection reflects this, and it is keen to facilitate wider use by different audiences. This is done through a mixture of approaches, from direct and collaborative research into the collection to creative responses with underrepresented audiences.

To this end we have and are working with our LGBTQ+ communities to widen public understanding of the nation’s rich maritime heritage.