Probably the largest museum of its kind in the world. The historic buildings form part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, and it also incorporates the Royal Observatory, and 17th-century Queen's House. Since earliest times Greenwich has had associations with the sea and navigation. It was a landing place for the Romans; Henry VIII lived here; the navy has roots on the waterfront; and Charles II founded the Royal Observatory in 1675 for "finding the longitude of places". The home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian since 1884, Greenwich has long been a centre for astronomical study, while navigators across the world have set their clocks according to its time of day. The Museum has the most important holdings in the world on the history of Britain at sea comprising more than two million items, including maritime art (both British and 17th-century Dutch), cartography, manuscripts including official public records, ship models and plans, scientific and navigational instruments, instruments for time-keeping and astronomy (based at the Observatory). Its British portraits collection is exceeded in size only by that of the National Portrait Gallery and its holdings relating to Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson and Captain James Cook, among many other individuals, are unrivalled.
By virtue of its pairing with the Royal Observatory, the Museum enjoys a unique conjunction of subjects (history, science and the arts), enabling it to trace the movement and accomplishments of people and the origins and consequences of empire. The outcome of the Museum's work is to achieve, for all its users at home and overseas, a greater understanding of British economic, cultural, social, political and maritime history and its consequences in the world today. The Museum has the world's largest maritime historical reference library, including over 100,000 books, 20,000 pamphlets, 20,000 bound periodicals including 200 current titles and 8000 rare books dating from 1474 to 1850. The Caird Library is a comprehensive specialist reference library and a rich research resource for all. The reading room is open Monday to Friday, 10.00–16.45, and 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.45 on Saturday. The Archive and Library holds a fantastic range of resources for finding out more about maritime history. Material includes manuscripts, books, charts and maps dating back to the 15th century and comprising the most extensive maritime archive in the world. The collection can be used to research maritime history and exploration, the history of the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy and much more, including astronomy and timekeeping. Many of the resources they hold are useful for family historians, including large collections of Master’s Certificates dating back to 1845 and Merchant Navy Crew Lists back to the 1860s. The archive catalogue is available online.
The museum was officially established in 1934 within the 200 acres (0.81 km2) of Greenwich Royal Park in the buildings formerly occupied by the Royal Hospital School, before it moved to Holbrook in Suffolk. These buildings had previously been occupied by the Royal Naval Asylum before it was incorporated into the Greenwich Royal Hospital School. It includes the Queen's House (part of the historic park-and-palace landscape of "Maritime Greenwich", which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997) and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, until 1948 the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory as well as the Cutty Sark. The gardens immediately to the north of the museum were reinstated in the late 1870s following construction of the cut-and-cover tunnel between Greenwich and Maze Hill stations. The tunnel comprised part of the final section of the London and Greenwich Railway and opened in 1878. All floors of the National Maritime Museum have lift access. All the toilet and baby change facilities at the museums are wheelchair accessible. All Visitor Assistants are trained in disability awareness, so please ask a member of staff for any assistance you may need during your visit. Guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs are welcome across all our sites. Wheelchairs can be borrowed from the museum information desk on the day of your visit, but they recommend booking these in advance due to limited availability. It is possible to touch objects from all Royal Greenwich Museum sites, except the Queen’s House. Large print guides are available for Cutty Sark and temporary exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory. Audio guides are available for special exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House.
Location : Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Transport: Cutty Sark (DLR). Greenwich Pier (River Services). London Buses routes 129, 177, 180, 188, 286 and 386 stop here.
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00.
Tickets : Free.
Tel: 020 8312 6608