Managing the collections

The Collections Management team at Royal Museums Greenwich is responsible for planning, installing, touring and lending items from our collections.


View all our Collections policies

Recent aquisitions

Borrowing from our collections

Acquisitions & disposals

Donate an item

Immunity from seizure

Visit our collections online website

The world's largest maritime collection

Our understanding of the maritime history of Great Britain has evolved over the years and our collections reflect this in ever-changing ways. The collection at the National Maritime Museum is the largest and most significant maritime collection in the world. It 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.

Collections development

Earl Stanhope, first Chairman of the National Maritime Museum observed in 1937 its opening year,

‘the Museum must never become a mausoleum but should seek constantly to increase its collections and build the stories they enable us to tell.'

The Museums’ Collections Development Policy establishes priorities for our individual collections informed by the primary aims and strategies of Royal Museums Greenwich, which are to:

  • stimulate curiosity in all our users: ensure our temporary exhibitions and permanent gallery renewal programmes are high quality, employ sophisticated interpretation and grow audiences worldwide
  • ensure inspired development and stewardship of our collection and buildings: develop our collections intellectually to meet current and future display and learning needs

Even in 1937 the Museum‘s collections were of an astonishing range and quality. Collecting had, in fact, started in the 1920s, led by the Society for Nautical Research (SNR), the Museum‘s first Director, Sir Geoffrey Callender, and Sir James Caird, the Museum‘s first and most generous benefactor.

Accreditation Scheme

We are an accredited Museum in Arts Council England’s Museum Accreditation Scheme which sets nationally agreed standards for museums managing collections in the UK. It enables museums to assess their current performance at managing collections, while accredited status demonstrates that the museum has met a national standard, thereby strengthening applications for public and private funding.

Useful documents

Collections Disposal Policy

Royal Museums Greenwich Corporate Plan 2014-18

Royal Museums Greenwich Annual Review 2014-15