Museum of the Month: The Maritime Galleries

By Londonist Last edited 104 months ago
Museum of the Month: The Maritime Galleries


Of all London's majestic museums the Maritime Galleries is the most fun to get to - on our recent visit we sped down the Thames on a Clipper (smugly leaving a Thames Tourist boat in our wake) and rode in the front seat of the DLR on the way back in to town. There's nothing quite like snagging the front seat on the DLR - it brings out the seven year old in us... and luckily we had a real life seven year old with us to help us bagsy the seat.

Anyway, to the Museum. The Maritime Galleries is one of three sites - the others being the Royal Observatory and the Queen’s House - that comprise the National Maritime Museum. One person we spoke to told us that some of the museum porters who buzz around the grounds in golf buggies remember the museum in its previous incarnation as a school for the children of seafarers. Given that the museum was formally established by Act of Parliament in 1934 and opened in 1937 that tells us something about the love of these people for their work!

The Galleries house a number of permanent exhibitions and unsurprisingly, it was the Maritime London exhibition that we found ourselves lingering over the longest. Set in the middle of this room is a board emblazoned with quotes by people moved to describe London in such enigmatic terms as these:

"Where has commerce such a mart,

So rich, so throng'd, so drain'd, and so supplied

As London—opulent, enlarg'd, and still

Increasing London?”

William Cowper

“It is difficult to speak adequately or justly of London. It is not a pleasant place; it is not agreeable, or cheerful, or easy, or exempt from reproach. It is only magnificent”

Henry James

Well, we couldn’t agree more.

Over the next three weeks we’ll be bringing you a preview of the new Toy Exhibition, as well as a couple of curators picks from their vast collection. If you have any favourites of your own, please let us know.

Browse previous Museums of the Month.

Last Updated 05 May 2010