I am sure that you will not be bored with a visit to the National Maritime Museum here 😊 as it features popular artworks and space-photography that will capture your interest from the time you walk-in as it did mine, on this visit. It is a perfect place to visit after the Queens House as it is located next to the House. It is a place where you can stroll at leisure and take a breather while your kids or grand-kids are entertained with the many activities and objects that are showcased here. It is an interesting venue for both kids and adults, and they will be intrigued and entertained, for sure.
This maritime museum is the largest in the UK and is possibly also the largest of its kind in the world. This iconic building is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It currently features The World’s Best Space Photography with amazing space photos and it is a ticketed event. Additionally, I was particularly drawn to the following five main attractions:
- Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle – this is a replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle by Yinka Shonibare, MBE and is located just outside the Maritime Museum building. This is a popular piece of artwork, scaled-down to the very detail of the Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory in which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805;
- Figure Head Collection – this is a collection of more than 230 figureheads which reflects ornamental carvings from late 17th century and how it developed through the centuries until early 20th century;
- The Opium Pipe in the Traders Gallery – tells a story of British history which spans over 250 years. The Company’s trading patterns changed in the late 1700’s. By this time, it made most of its money from the trade in China tea, as tea drinking became popular in Britain. The Traders Gallery depicts the stories of what led to the first and second Opium Wars with China and how the East India Company shaped the trade between Britain and Asia.
- The stories in the gallery continues to illustrate the rise and fall of this majestic East India Company, the end of the Company that changed the world, the effect of its lasting legacies which is felt even today.
I found my visit here rather enjoyable probably because I was not as distracted as I was when on my first visit with my kids. I especially liked the Opium Pipe in the Traders Gallery. It is something which I recall seeing but now I noted its beautiful and intricate details – made of ivory and terracotta.
- On the second floor, there is a large Great Map of the World drawn on the floor which makes a nice playground for children from age 1 to 99!
- Prince Frederick’s Barge
This colourful barge was designed by William Kent, built by John Hall and completed with carved decorations by James Richards between 1731 and 1732. It has a flat mid-section to accommodate the cabin. It was rowed by 21 oarsmen and steered by a barge-master. It is gilded with small square sheets of 22-carat gold leaf applied over a thin layer of glue.
The barge enhanced the royal status of Prince Frederick and the carved decorations symbolised his position as the heir to the British throne and suggest the maritime power of the nation.
There are a number of scheduled shows and events that takes place daily which you can check on the day of your visit at the reception or you can ask any of the tour guides there who are extremely helpful. I would highly recommend that you visit this Maritime Museum as it is educational for kids and as for adults, it brings us back in time and reflect on the World’s history. No matter how you see it, it is good to fit this into your itinerary for completeness as part of a nice little day trip!
Summary of Experiences at the National Maritime Museum
1. Possibly the largest of its kind in the world
2. Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle
3. Figurehead Collection
4. The Traders Gallery – British history over 250 years
5. Map of the World – various continents
6. Prince Frederick’s Barge
7. Exhibitions – at the moment it is on “Space Photography”
Opening hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Toilets and baby-changing facilities are accessible.