- The National Maritime Museum is currently showing just one exhibition; however, they are planning on reopening the other galleries soon under new government guidelines.
- Immerse yourself in cultural and nautical wonder with the fantastic four permanent exhibitions in the new gallery spaces that are free of charge.
- The amazing temporary exhibitions cover a vast range of subjects, from astronomical photography to the great British seaside, there is always something interesting for families to learn about here.
- Younger kids will love the soft play area and the interactive trails that add to the overall experience of the museum.
Dating back to 1937, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has been displaying naval art and nautical artefacts to the public for decades. It is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich programme which is devoted to enriching Greenwich with museums. The interesting permanent exhibitions, gorgeous temporary displays and delicious cafe make this location one of the best free museums in London to visit with the family. The museum caters to people of all needs, with extensive facilities to make sure all kinds of visitors are comfortable and have a good experience during their visit.
The permanent exhibitions in the National Maritime Museum are a must-see for children and adults alike. Opening in 2018, one of the main attractions to this museum are the four innovative galleries that have unique and exciting displays, all free of charge.
Discover the wayfaring wonders of old British pirates in the Tudor and Stuart Seafarers exhibition. View over 120 items from the museum’s extensive nautical collection including model ships, maps and more. Learn about the true stories of conquerors like Christopher Columbus and Blackbeard and get to know the impact of their voyages that still affect the indigenous people today. If your children are going through a pirate phase, this is the perfect day out for them.
Feast your eyes in the Sea Things exhibition that explores humankind’s relationship with the mysterious ocean. There are over 600 objects on view in this display, each with their own history and story to uncover. With an interactive quiz and some hands-on activities, this is a brilliant place to bring kids for some educational entertainment.
Explore the tundra in the Polar Worlds exhibition. Follow the men who pushed themselves to the limit to find out what lies at the top of the earth. Accompanied with genuine artefacts that have been salvaged from the deep Arctic snow, this is a truly wonderful display that you will not find anywhere else.
The Pacific Encounters exhibition is widely recognised for its incredible artefacts and detailed history of the exploration of this wide ocean by British wayfarer, Captain Cook and all the island inhabitants he meets along his journey. From discovering the history of sailing and navigation with a genuine Fijian canoe to viewing artwork that depicts the first time these two cultures collide with each other, there is just so much to see and learn about. This particular display comes highly recommended by Sir David Attenborough, so it’s bound to be intriguing and educational for the whole family.
If you have younger kids, they'll love spending time in the fabulous soft play area called the Great Map. There are also trails and treasure hunts available to really immerse your child in the experience of the museum and to get them looking closer at all the artefacts.
What to know before you go
- Due to Coronavirus complications, the National Maritime Museum has only opened one exhibition for the public to visit; however, there are plans to reopen more galleries and facilities as time goes on. The Royal Museums Greenwich kindly request that visitors book a free ticket and time slot online to ensure the government guidelines for museum capacity are maintained. Frequent hand sanitising and wearing of a mask is required.
- The National Maritime Café, located inside the museum, is open for customers. There is indoor and outdoor seating available with stunning views of Greenwich Royal Park, the perfect place for refreshments after a fun educational excursion.
- There are toilets, including wheelchair-accessible toilets, and baby-changing facilities available on site.
- Other on-site facilities include a cloakroom and a buggy parking area that visitors can avail of for a small price.
- The entire London Maritime Museum, including the café and gift shop, is wheelchair friendly with lifts and ramps. Manual wheelchairs can be borrowed from the museum upon request.
- There are sensory maps available to download from the website for those who need to find the quieter, more relaxed and/or multi-sensory areas of the museum. There are also Sensory Explorer backpacks available to enable families with children who have special needs to enjoy the museum and have a fun, sensory experience. Visitors can also request access to a quiet room.
- Ear defenders, magnifying glasses, pamphlets with large print and hearing loops are all available at the museum for visitors who require them.
- Every film shown in the museum includes subtitles, and all of the staff are trained to a level one stage of British Sign Language to help any visitors who may be deaf or hard of hearing.
How to get there
- The National Maritime Museum is located on the Greenwich Peninsula, about 6.8 miles from central London.]
- Opening hours are 10.30am - 4pm.
- The closest stations are Cutty Sark DLR, Greenwich Rail Station/DLR and Maze Hill Rail Station; all just a short walk away from the museum.
- Bus routes 129, 177, 180, 188, 286 and 386 all have a stop near the museum.
- There is a small car park on the grounds of the National Maritime Museum on Park row that charges £3 per hour.
- Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.
Images © Geographical UK and Marine Insight.