National Maritime Museum

Museums , Military and maritime Greenwich
Recommended
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(33 user reviews)
90 Love It
Save it
1/5
2/5
3/5
 (Matt Carr  / Time Out)
4/5
Matt Carr / Time Out
 (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
5/5
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out

From Nelson’s heroics to ocean-liner glamour to pirate escapades, this museum has something to fascinate all ages

Free to visit, the National Maritime Museum is at the heart of the Royal Museums Greenwich (which also includes the Queen’s House next door, Cutty Sark about five minutes away, and the Royal Observatory up the hill).

For hundreds of years, Greenwich was at the heart of maritime Britain – for commerce, travel and naval interests. As a result, the collection at the National Maritime Museum is an unparalleled treasure trove of artefacts, models, maps, art and memorabilia, and thanks to extensive refurbishment, its galleries offer something for everyone – from students of maritime history to toddlers who want to imagine they’re at the seaside.

Not surprisingly, there is an extensive gallery called ‘Nelson, Navy, Nation’. It tells a story stretching from the Glorious Revolution to the defeat of Napoleon: the shipbuilding, the battles, the public adulation of Admiral Lord Nelson, and historic pieces that reveal what life would have been like for a sailor over 200 years ago. The display even includes the uniform Nelson was wearing during the Battle of Trafalgar when he was fatally wounded. (Big hero, but, judging by the uniform, a surprisingly little guy.)

There is also a section of the museum that recounts James Cook’s North-West Passage expedition in the late 1770s, a display about the trade history of the East India Company, and a Forgotten Fighters gallery, which tells the stories of those who served at sea during World War I.

For families, it’s worth heading straight for the Ahoy! gallery. This is a play area within the main museum building that is especially designed for babies and children aged up to seven. Its themed zones include a vast model of the deck and cabins of a ship, a beach scene, a fresh fish shop, and games which allow you to fire cannon and play iceberg ‘ice hockey’.

The All Hands interactive gallery is for ages six to 12. Here older children can test their skills defending against a pirate attack, use maritime technology and load a cargo ship before it sets sail.

Venue name: National Maritime Museum
Contact:
Address: Romney Rd
Greenwich
London
SE10 9NF
Opening hours: Daily 10am–5pm. Closed Dec 24–26
Transport: Rail: Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail
Price: Free, some exhibitions and events ticketed
Do you own this business?

Pick a date

to
  • Exhibitions Until Monday April 17 2017
    Read more

Average User Rating

3.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:17
  • 2 star:7
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|33
1 person listening
Tara P
Tastemaker

I have previously visited the National Maritime Museum for an Ansel Adams exhibit that was simply breathtaking, with the massive, monochrome landscapes given enough space and the right lighting to really shine. I was pleased to return for an immersive theatre event at Halloween that, whilst flawed, was brilliant fun. The mystery was a tad inconclusive, but the experience of exploring the museum at night was top notch. The staff, too, were very friendly. Overall the Maritime Museum is a multi-faceted site of entertainment and education, and is the perfect addition to any day spent in beautiful Greenwich.

Lily C
tastemaker

A friend and I visited the 'museum lates' immersive theatre experience. The museum was fantastic and full of fascinating artefacts with interesting themes and rooms throughout. However the event we attended was poorly run, it was more like a murder mystery set-up with no clear storyline which meant the mystery was never solved! It was pretty poor unfortunately and had so much potential.

I do however hope the museum persevere as when they do get their after dark events right I am sure it will be spectacular.

Shona R
Tastemaker

This museum is a wonder for anyone that has a fascination with the sea!  I think the recent addition of the immersive theatre evening is probably effecting the score of this museum.


I went to the Mystery at the Museum event which (whilst it was cool to be at the museum at night) was very disorganised and not worth attending.  There was no clear storyline, the actors were pretty poor, and there is a difference between immersive and treasure hunt.

Marco D
tastemaker

The National Maritime Museum is a must visit museum for sure. It's full of exciting treasures, trinkets and all sorts of objects involved around the sea and the ocean. There are two great ways to get into the museum. You have the grand entrance where you'll find two enormous white anchors on either side. Then you have the back entrance of the museum where you'll find a beautiful pathway down to the entrance. 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' by Yinka Shonibare is the masterpiece that you automatically see with a fantastic cafeteria/seating area for your delight.

When I first visited I went through the back entrance to the museum. Not to difficult to find as it's next to the Greenwich Tavern pub. My first visit didn't really go well and it didn't really go to plan. I really had to visit the museum a second time as I really wanted to give a very honest review about the museum itself and not base the review on the event only.

It was a good experience being at the Maritime Museum after hours at the 'Mystery at the Museum' event last week, but it truly was a disaster.

For the event to have worked it would be best to have 15 to 20 people maximum. Possibly be split into groups and go to different directions. There really wasn't a clear idea of what we had to do or what we were looking for.

It was just too many people running around a museum asking random questions and we really didn't get the chance to find out the clues of the mystery for ourselves as many just followed wherever anyone was going.

I also found that people really weren't that interested, so they just gave up and decided to do what they liked. (Rant of the event over).

My honest review on the museum itself is fantastic. It's a treasure of the deep blue where you can truly explore the unexpected and navigate your way through the worldwide ocean. It's a must visit museum for all the family, especially for the children as they will love the interactive exhibits and installations. The in depth models of ships, peculiar objects, fascinating artefacts, and historical trinkets are the unique touches of the museum.

It's a world of the lost treasure at sea and the content of the information is incredible. Your knowledge will broaden as you find out the true happenings of the events at sea. One of the best art pieces is 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' which is located outside. The detail is exquisitely mind-blowing. Elaborate fabric is used to create the sails of the ship. Each and every piece is intricately placed to perfection.

It's completely free to visit the National Maritime Museum, so there is no excuse for anyone to miss out.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Sara A
tastemaker

At the risk of flooding the National Maritime Museum with reviews of the Mystery at the Museum event, I also attended the disorganised "immersive theatre" event. Whilst the idea was really very good - the director has gone missing along with the cursed artefact that the museum has recently procured - in practice it was really quite terrible. Hundreds of us that attended were left to wonder around a dark museum fairly aimlessly, not getting any clues from the actors we interviewed and no direction as to where we should look and what we were looking for. Evidently, some people must have stumbled across the right clues and made sense of them because they seemed to have got a lot further than I did. But looking at the majority of the reviews below, I was not the only one.


I've never visited the museum in the daytime, I didn't think it would be my thing. But what I did see whilst wondering around in the dark looked to be very interesting and I think I would have had a better time had they just opened up the museum later than usual and let everyone walk around. I probably will come back to look at the exhibits in daylight but I won't be in a hurry to go to any more events they hold!

retroashlat
tastemakerTastemaker

I, too, was a guest at the Mystery at the Museum late night event about a week and a half ago. My flatmate, who is a playwright, came with me as she has had more than a few immersive theatre experiences and I thought it would be a good plan to get her take on it.

And I, too, was disappointed.

The museum itself is a glorious ode to everything maritime-y and British, and while We definitely appreciated the chance to wander about relatively unsupervised and take in all of the artefacts the museum had on show, I would very much have preferred to do so without having the guise of the mystery as the backdrop.

The idea was that myself and everyone at the event were to try to figure out where a missing key to a locked box had gone, as well as locate the museum's director who had also gone missing. There were actors stationed around the museum that we could talk to; after spending about an hour wandering around half heartedly noting clues, a bit of a commotion with one character ensued and it was a mad dash to follow her around as she led us to piecing this thing together.

I do have to give credit to the lighting and sound designers of the evening - some really cool effects used there and they really lent a certain sinister ambiance to the evening. Aside from that though, I could have just done without the immersive theatre bit. Everything was far too disjointed to make sense - and trying to understand everything and how it all fit together in under an hour was really an unwelcome stress.

I would go to another museum late here for sure, but keep the theatre bits out of it.

Jo Gowans
Tastemaker

We visited for Mystery at the Museum, a ticketed after-hours event that promised an 'immersive theatre experience'. To put this bland and very basic performance in the same category as Punchdrunk's extraordinary work is a crime, so I'd say this is better filed under 'mildly entertaining evening'. It was a shame, because the Museum itself is impressive, and some of the artifacts and exhibits looked worthy of a visit, if only it hadn't been too dark for us to see them. 

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

Visited the National Maritime Museum, previous week as a late opening of the museum for the "Murder in the museum" event/theatre. Unfortonately, this was a rather disappointing night. The museum itself is quite big with an impressive colleciton on naval objects/history if you are intersted into maritime subject; but as late opening and within this event, you don't have the chance to truly enjoy the museum. The "Murder in the museum" is advertised as an immersive theatre experience from the crystal maze creators. Chaotic story, no proper start/end of the story, clues that don't make sense and just the audience is wandering around for an hour with no point. The event itself was quite disapointed and not properly organized.

Lizzie W
Tastemaker

Unfortunately I have never visited this museum during opening hours (something that is on my list!) and am assured it is jam packed full of interesting things. I have seen the impressive building from afar when going to the observatory or wandering round Greenwich village however my only visit has been after dark on Halloween weekend for a spooky after hours adult only Mystery at the Museum. 


We arrived 15 minutes before jt started to receive our tot of rum and put our coats and bags in the free cloakroom. Wewere then called in to a large open gallery in the museum where we were debriefed on the events which had taken place that day (a missing object with a shaded past and a missing museum director). From there we were given free roam of the museum for an hour to solve the mystery. There was no time to explore the exhibitions but along the way we bumped in to 6 actors who gradually unfurled some of the mysteries going on and the mysterious background associated with the missing infamous ships pin (still no idea what this is!). 


Although fun it was definitely chaotic, with over 100 people rushing around it meant that you missed certain things unfold in other parts of the museum. In the end it finished in a very abrupt and confusing finale in the place where we started. 


The event made for a fun hour with some well laid out areas of the museum (dimly lit with candles or manic fluorescence painted on the wall in pitch black) however it was just too short a time with too many people to properly appreciate. We had a blast and it was something a bit different however I would have been a little disappointed if we had paid for it.

Vieve W
Tastemaker

The Maritime museum itself is a well adorned and informative attraction nestled in the beautiful maritime garden grounds.

It is well worth a visit or two and is especially beautiful in the summer.

A friend and I recently attended the Halloween Mates event named 'Mystery at the Museum'.

So to put it bluntly, we were left severely unimpressed by this event. So we left early.

It was an awful event, which was unorganised, uneventful and completely inauthentic. As someone who absolutely loves museum lates and has attended events such as the Crime Scene Live at the NHM, I held high hopes for this event.

The Maritime museum itself is a wonderful free museum but I felt they had severely under prepared for this event.

Everyone was offered a tot of rum to begin and then brought into the Great Map area where we were given a background on what the mystery was by one of the 'actors'. We were at the back and since there was no microphone, we couldn't hear a thing... cue the next 40 minutes wandering around the museum in befuddlement and confusion.

Needless to say, we left the night early.

Immersive theatre this was not.

Daniel L
Tastemaker

Attended the Mystery at the museum event. The idea is great, but the execution was severely lacking. The puzzle itself, was not difficult, but add to that the fact that 150+ people are in your way and literally at times competing against you ensured that no one could solve the puzzle. The actors were literally grabbed and pulled by some of the visitors and I am not surprised they became guarded and even at times rude in what must have been a very intimidating scenario for them. The museum itself was very well curated with enough varied exhibits to keep you entertained. I must give my recommendations to the cloak room staff though who were extremely efficient in handing out coats post event despite the giant queue.

jeaniekarl
Tastemaker

I've been here during the day and evening. It's fairly small and has lots of interesting artefacts and treasures relating to maritime heritage. However it didn't appeal to me although it probably would be totally fascinating to the right visitor. Personally find the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory more interesting places to visit within the area. I recently went to their Mystery at the Museum event which could have been really good but just left me really confused. I had no idea what was going on, in fact no one appeared to solve the mystery! Actors were good, clues were too random and made no sense to help. Saying that, it was interesting way to visit and explore the museum when it was less crowded in the evening and there are a good choice of eateries afterwards in the nearby vicinity. Nice to visit if you happen to be in the area.

Leah P
tastemaker

Mystery night at the maritime for Halloween. Spooky attending the museum after hours with actors. There were a series of ipads and clues dotted around the museum to find the pin and particular actor, then we were all brought to the map in the end where the pin appeared after hearing a tape recording. Not sure if there was any order to the clues but I found it a little disorientating with lack of direction. 

However, I did enjoy having random chats with the actors to try and solve the 'who done it' mystery. Sadly we never found out where the missing actor had disappeared too, so maybe there will be a follow up...

Richard N
Tastemaker

This is a gorgeous museum, with a sprawling area that fits itself nicely into the very pleasant Greenwich area. Quiet as a whole, it makes for a great afternoon out, whether you're a kid, adult or a kidult. Full of history and with enough information to keep you entertained for hours, it's worth the trip out, if only to find out more about the sea trade or nautical history, which is always presented in easily digestible chunks. Also look out for the giant map near the entrance, perfect for photos. It's not the easiest place to navigate, but take an afternoon off to get lost at sea and the fascinating world that few of us are privy to. 

JamesBarker82
tastemaker

Nestled in the beautiful Greenwich Gardens. The National Maritime Museum is a must for any seafarer (or wannabe seafarer). A vast building spanning the great history of maritime including fan favourite's such as British hero Horatio Nelson, and the 17th century British Navy, as well as  and the fascinating East India Company. Plenty for children to do as well as adults, making it a fun day out for the whole family, you won't be disappointed. 

Bonnie W
Tastemaker

This free museum located between the beautiful Greenwich Park and the historic town centre of Greenwich provides a history of trade and battles at sea, as you can probably gather from the name. The museum is medium sized and didn’t take me too long to look around. It feels a bit sparse on artifacts as there are very few boats within the museum, mainly smaller items on display along with a few figureheads and a lighthouse light. My favourite part of the museum was actually the giant ship in a bottle sculpture located outside the back of the museum. It’s definitely worth visit if you’re already in Greenwich, but I wouldn’t consider the National Maritime Museum to be a destination. 

Kirsty S
tastemaker

 This review is for the 'Mystery at the Museum ' Evening


Firstly, what an amazing backdrop for a spooky 'who dunnit' in the run up to Halloween. Dark and majestic, with statues and painting at every turn, abandoned corridors and the swooshing of the waves in the background, you certainly feel immersed into the maritime world.


The content and delivery of the actual mystery was ,however, a let down Had the groups been smaller, say 10-15 at staggered times, everyone would have got more out of it . However,too many people, not enough actors, and no natural progression in clues left people just wandering around thinking what was going on.


The twists when executed were intriguing such as the wall of writing, letters misplaced around the museum, and actors sharing ghost stories were fun! 


Worth a visit  and looking forwards to whatever new mystery awaits at the Maritime!

Paula - ToT
tastemaker

I attended the Mystery at the Museum event on 29 October 2016 and it definitely was a mystery - even now I have no clue what was actually going on.  However, what I do know is, whatever was going on, I had a bizarre albeit fun night.  It was a great way of trying to engage young adults to learn a bit about the exhibits in the museum and the immersive actors were fab.  It did end abruptly though and thought that part of the evening could have been much better.  However, I’d go again given a chance but maybe only if free.

Kirsty E
Tastemaker

A difficult review to write as there doesn't seem to be a separate event page for the Mystery at the Museum evening..


The museum itself is fascinating, lots of hidden areas and interesting exhibits. However, the event was severely lacking. Penned as an "immersive theatre" experience, there should have been far more interaction and storyline. Instead, we were given a 5 minute introduction and then free reign of the museum for an hour to locate clues.


It was pretty much impossible to determine what exactly was going on and even after the finale, we were none the wiser. Overall, really disappointing. It could have been so much better. If we had paid for the event I think we would be even more gutted!!  

Elizabeth P
tastemaker

Went to the Mystery at the museum event here on Sat night. After some scene setting from the Head of PR we were sent off around the museum in search of a person and some objects. Dotted around were various "clues" and cast members to chat to. We spent the hour running around trying to figure out what was going on. The actors were the best I've come across at this kind of event - pretty natural and just chatting away. We were surprised at how many guests there were and as time went on it got harder and harder to have conversations or view items. Perhaps the numbers were because of the opening night though.

Unfortunately when the hour was up and we all came to learn the answers to the mysteries it was very disappointing. It seemed to have all the components of a good event but they just didn't come together. My friend and I were both of the opinion that we'd actually rather have spent the hour just viewing the exhibits. I suppose it's a success in exposing people to the museum and generating interest but a let down as an immersive theatre event.

Will definately be returning to leave a review for the museum but for now I can just rate the event.

Misha M.
tastemaker

The Maritine Museum is quite unique if you are into trades, ships and naval history. If you have sometime, it's worth it to spend the day in Greenwich, you can also take a ferry from the Embankment station for a fun experience too. I especially like the section where they exhibited history of spice trades, you might to if you have a curious food mind. As for the Mystery night, I have to agree maybe it was a little disorganized. Other than that, it's nice to roam around there if you are in the area anyway. 

Luisa G
Tastemaker

I recently went to Mystery at the Museum at this museum. The museum itself is beautiful. The lights were down, and exhibitions looked great (although they were hard to see in the near dark).


The actual 'immersive theatre' aspect, unfortunately, wasn't great. It consisted of 300 confused people wandering around the museum for an hour, looking for clues about things that didn't make sense. It transpired that all of the clues were pointless, and the end reveal had nothing to do with any of them.


The only real bit of immersive theatre that we saw, was when we alterted one actress that her husband was having an affair with another actress....she went storming to find the other actress, and it all kicked off. That was fun!


I wouldn't recommend it (for any price) - if they want to call it immersive theatre, they need to add in a lot more structure, and immersive theatre, and have smaller groups (maybe 20 - 30 people, rather than 300).



Sarah J
tastemaker

Generally I really like this museum. It's in such a nice location, and there's definitely none other quite like it in London with the historical perspectives of wars and history of the seas. I recently went to a Mystery at the Museum event and although it was really fun being inside a museum after hours and the music and lighting was really well done and added to the ambience, it was quite disorganised and 'frantic'. Having been to immersive theatre experiences before, I think I was expecting more, and it was chaotic and confusing so we just lost engagement after a while. I would recommend visiting during the day where you can enjoy the rich history the different exhibits have to offer!

elladacas
tastemaker

The museum itself is rather grand and well presented! One could easily spend an afternoon here without knowing. I came for a special mystery halloween event here but sadly it didn't live up to its hype at all. There weren't enough clues,people to question and it was so large I forgot what we were actually looking for in the end. But again this museum is really nice!!!

Amy L
Tastemaker

We attended the Halloween Mystery Night at he Maritime Museum last night. Like one of the reviewers below, we arrived a little late, and I wonder whether this affected my experience because we arrived and headed straight into the event, which involved running around the museum to find clues in order to solve a mystery.... but I'm still not really sure what the mystery was that we were trying to solve! It was a cool experience to be in the museum after hours, and the actors were all good, but I did find it a bit difficult to really become immersed in the whole thing. A good idea, but perhaps could be executed a bit better. The museum itself is quite impressive though, and it is conveniently situated close to Greenwich village, so easy to get to and in close proximity to several pubs and restaurants for food and drinks after a visit.

Adrian H
Tastemaker

Britain's maritime history and London's place in it are well documented in this light and airy museum. Various areas explore the ages and include Nelson at Trafalgar, the quest for speed featuring Miss Britain III, and a collection of figureheads, which loom over visitors, watching from their place on the high walls of the central great map area.


The museum is free but does often feature paid for exhibits, recently showing 'Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution', and the soon to appear 'Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity'.

Jane G.
Tastemaker

Halloween Mystery Night at the Maritime Museum was good fun. I don't like scary so I was pleased it wasn't. The cast members were great! It was interactive theatre so the idea was to wander around and ask cast members questions to get clues to solve the mystery of what happened to the director and the missing artifact. There were also paper clues. One of the cast members lied about what time their character started work which we caught. And although we tried hard to put the clues together, we never actually found the answer. From asking others who atteneded, it sounded like no one did! It was amazing to wander around the museum after hours! I enjoyed myself and had we solved the crime or perhaps been told before we left, I would have rated it a 5.

Soso T
tastemaker

Halloween Mystery Night at the Maritime Museum. We were a bit late so missed out on the intros but after speaking to a few of the cast members, we got the gist of the story. The night consisted of running around the museum, finding clues and speaking to the cast to find out what had happened to the director and the missing artifact. It sounds like a cool concept, but we were a bit lost and clueless... Maybe we just didn't ask the correct questions but I didn't feel there was a logical path to follow... We probably were just really bad detectives too. The actors for the cast were good and really in character and is was cool being able to wonder around the museum in the dark, after hours when it's less busy. It would have been spooky if they had people dressed as ghosts popping out to scare you... The museum was wheelchair accessible so there were no problems wheeling around to find clues, but I got a bit bored and distracted.

Simon W

Great displays, wonderful location, this is a great place to spend a couple of hours...

Tom Bruce
Tastemaker

Expansive and impressive. Worth a trip on its own to explore the three floors and see whatever exhibitions may be on. The Samuel Pepys 'Plague, Fire, Revolution' is on right now and is immensely popular. You do have to shell out the cash, £12 per adult, although entry to the Maritime museum itself is free. Even if only passing through on the way to the Royal Observatory, you may as well have a glance at what's to see on the ground floor. The most striking display was a restored water speed record-breaking boat, Miss England III, a magnificent 007-alike construction of shiny chrome and a hundred thousand rivets which was built in 1937. 


Naval enthusiasts will be in paradise, as most of the museum's holdings relate to war on the high seas, tracking historical waves of technological progress from canoes up to the battle cruisers of modernia. The gift shop has some inventive items for sale, but as they are on the pricey side, you may want to wait for them to set sale...



Sarah D

The Ahoy! gallery is a really fun, imaginitive and immersive experience for kids, taking them straight to the heart of maritime life - my toddler loved it. With several different areas and loads to get involved in, from fishing in an arctic ice pool to shopping in the fish market and stoking the coal in the belly of a ship, kids can enjoy themselves in here for a good hour or more. Toddlers and babies were loving the cosy little enclave that makes up the sensory area too, with its lights, bubble machine and marine life soft toys, creating a feeling of being at the bottom of the sea. We visited on a Saturday and although it can get a little busy it is plenty big enough to accommodate everyone. For a free attraction we were really impressed with Ahoy! The museum has the added benefit of a lovely cafe, which we visited afterwards. We will defintiely be visiting again soon.

Kritt N
Tastemaker

Another wonderful and free museum in Maritime Greenwich! Housed in a grand building and a lot quieter than it's sibling museums in central London, the Maritime Museum, as the name suggest, explores Britain's national maritime museum from medieval times all the way through to modern day. It's explore the might of the British navy, her trade with the rest of the world, artifact, models of ships and famous sea captains. There is also a an area for kids where maritime activities are regularly hosted. There are three floors to explore. Be sure to check out the stained glass of the baltic Exchange which is found on the 1st floor and the gift shop for maritime themed gifts and clothes. Perfect family day for the whole family and loads to learn from.