Welcome to the National Museum of the Royal Navy blog. A great way to keep up to date with the latest news and developments from around the museum.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Christmas Shopping at the Museum

Whether your Christmas shopping is in full swing, or even if you’re just starting out, now is a great time to visit our Museum Shop. We have a great range of gifts for all ages and budgets, and what’s more if you’re too far away or prefer to avoid the crowds, we have an online shop at http://www.rnmuseumshop.co.uk/index.html

We have a beautiful image of HMS Victory in the snow, taken during the heavy January snow falls earlier this year, available as a Christmas card in packs of 10. But if you fancy recreating the scene yourself, we do sell HMS Victory snow globes too! And why not open your own cards in style, with a letter opener with a difference – it’s a mini sword!

HMS Victory Christmas Card image

For stocking fillers, how about a chocolate medallion, or some of HMS Victory’s “Ship’s Rats” which are just like sugar mice. Lapel badges are available in a choice of 9 designs including a white ensign and an RN crown, and there are plenty of other small items to choose from throughout the shop, such as keyrings and pencils, to squeeze into that last little space in the stocking!

To toast the season, we have wine and rum available – you can even get your hands on a special Naval Toasts Tankard to drink from, engraved with well known naval toasts.

You can call the family for dinner with our Ship’s Bell (or call the crew for some assistance peeling the spuds!)

After dinner, games are a great opportunity to get the whole family playing together. The Best of British game, which you may have seen advertised on TV recently,  is a question based board game, centred around the quirky British sense of humour, and themed around modern everyday British life.

For the crafty types in the family, there are Airfix and Revell model making kits to keep them busy, and puzzles and games for the inquisitive mind.

Plus all the usual Books, DVD’s, Artwork, Figures and much more.

And after all that Christmas shopping, if you want to get organised for next year, 2011 diaries are in the shop now.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

National Museum goes International

Graham Dobbin, Chief Operating Officer (RNM) and Finance Director (NMRN), is in New York this week to meet with the trustees of the American Friends of the Royal Naval Museum, and attend their annual Pickle Night Dinner. Pickle Night commemorates the arrival of HMS Pickle in Falmouth Bay in November 1805, bringing home news of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and also of his death.

Through the wonders of modern technology, Graham will be able to keep us updated on his trip daily through this blog.

Thursday 11th  November

I survived the first hurdle – my transatlantic flight! Amazingly, I arrived at immigration control in New York to find it totally empty and therefore walked straight up to the passport guy – last time I was here it took 3 hours!  This meant I got to my hotel within 90 minutes.

Had supper last night at a fabulous Jewish Deli called Sarge’s -  instead of the complimentary bread you get in the UK, here you have a selection of dill pickles, coleslaw and chicken liver with bread – all very delicious but it did mean I was full up before the meal – a Hot Corned Beef Sandwich.

I woke ridiculously early this morning so tried to hit my work emails but the internet connection is pretty dire in the hotel (in fact, it’s a pretty dire hotel all round – last night no lifts were working and I’m on the 19th floor!!!) so I have had to walk to one of their sister hotels.

My hectic round of meetings starts today - breakfast with the Trustees, lunch with a potential supporter, and in the evening I’m hoping to get a bit of free time to go to watch the TV show 30 Rock being recorded.

Friday 12th November

Three meetings and three meals later……….

I love New York - the weather here is very mild and sunny at the moment. Yesterday was Veterans Day so there was a big parade and lots of servicemen in the city.

I started my day meeting with the Trustees in a typical diner, ended the day in a “pub” which dates back to 1885 where the “great and the good” used to gather to smoke clay pipes. They have many on display, including those used by Babe Ruth and Roosevelt.

Two more meetings today, culminating in the Black Tie Pickle Night Dinner in the New York yacht Club this evening. Somewhere in between all this I need to find some time to make some final tweaks to my speech!

Saturday 13th November

Last Night’s Pickle Night Dinner was a stunning occasion – some 114 people gathered in the truly special surroundings of the New York Yacht Club.

The guest speaker, Admiral Sir Alan Massey, was inspiring and I know he had the audience totally enthralled – in some respects I was his warm up act (with 5 minutes to talk about the Museum and its aspirations) but I wouldn’t dare to pretend that I am anywhere close to his style of after dinner speaking!

In my opinion, you can always judge an evening by the volume of the guests talking – it was VERY loud last night!

Prior to this lunch was had at the Yale Club – they serve Yorkshire Puddings with butter instead of bread rolls!

It was a late night last night which ended with a couple of attendees at the Vanderbilt Bar in Grand Central Station – talk about sublime to the ridiculous.

Today there’s a Trustees meeting of the American Society of Friends of the Museum and then dinner tonight at a Turkish Restaurant – a cuisine I have never experienced before.

After all of this it’s on to Florida for a short holiday - it will be salads all the way when I get there!!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Family Friendly Museum Award 2011

The Guardian has launched its Family Friendly Museum Award 2011, and with your help, we could be in with a chance of winning.

The award celebrates the Museum that receives the most nominations from its visitors, who say why they think their favourite Museum should win.

So, we need your help! What is it about our Museum that makes it so family friendly?

Is it the excitement of the Trafalgar Experience, or the interactive displays in the galleries? Perhaps it’s our excellent Family Area, the perfect place for smaller children to be entertained.

Maybe you visited one of our workshops and created a creepy sea creature mask, or kitted yourself out with an arctic explorer’s kit. Or did you go back in history and learn something new in our Time Traveller’s Club?

You might have met one of our staff whose help made your visit more enjoyable. Whatever it is, if you think we deserve to win it’s easy to nominate and anyone can do it.

Nominate by email at award@kidsinmuseums.org.uk

Or write to Kids in Museums, Downstream Building, One London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG.

You could even send them a video clip, a poem or a scrapbook – anything you like!

If you nominate, you can order a free Quentin Blake illustrated Award poster by emailing poster@kidsinmuseums.org.uk

Nominations close on 3rd December 2010

Thank you

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Some new developments

It may have taken us 3 years, and twice brought disappointment and frustration, but in late September, on our third attempt, the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to support our plans for new exhibitions on the Navy in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

This means we can now really crack on with a project that we have wanted to do for many years – one we are eager to achieve by 2014 to ensure the Navy is properly represented when the commemorations for the Centenary of World War I begin.

Despite the Navy’s enormous contribution to Britain’s history in the 20th Century, and the impact it has had on so many lives, either directly or indirectly, in this country and in every corner of the globe, there is no single exhibition that people can go to that interprets this story.  It is one of service and personal sacrifice, which is distinct from ‘ordinary’ life as perhaps you or I know it, and yet which closely mirrors the technological and social changes which have impacted every person on the planet over the past 110 years.

Storehouse Number 10 as it is now

So our goal is clear, but achieving it will be an exciting challenge that we look forward to reporting on in future blog posts.  We have to restore and modernise the ground floor of an 18th Century Dockyard Storehouse to give us more exhibition space (900 m² as opposed to the 200 m² that we have at the moment).  And even that won’t be enough, so we have to identify the central themes, pick from the rich variety of artefacts, photographs and oral history interviews in our collections the key items that will speak most powerfully to our visitors, and select a range of display methods that will cater for the different skills and interests of those visitors.  We must fully grasp the opportunity that the new exhibitions will present to widen the appeal of the Museum, not just through their content and approach, but by developing activities and events for schools and community groups alongside them.

And we have to raise £3 million!

How part of the new galleries could look

Along with everyone else these days, we are now ‘on a journey’ (or perhaps we should say ‘voyage’.)  But, thanks to HLF, we can see our destination on the horizon.  We look forward to working towards it and to recording our progress along the way.  You’re welcome to join us.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A little bit about us..

We were founded in 1911 as the Dockyard Museum, which displayed warship figureheads, model ships and general naval memorabilia.

In 1922 HMS Victory, which had been moored in Portsmouth harbour for many years, was moved into dry dock and restored. She was opened to the public in 1928. 

In 1930, W L Wyllie, the great marine artist, completed his Panorama of Trafalgar, a huge painting of the battle, at the back of a rigging shed across from the Victory.

In 1938 the rigging shed was rebuilt as the Victory Museum, a purpose built gallery dedicated to Victory and Nelson, which we still use today.  Original Dockyard Museum artefacts were also displayed.  The Panorama remained in situ, as it does today.

In 1972 a large collection of Nelson memorabilia was given to the Royal Navy by the American heiress and collector, Mrs Lily Lambert McCarthy. At this point the collections were taken into the Ownership of the Ministry of Defence and we became known as the Portsmouth Royal Naval Museum. At the same time, the large 18th Century storehouses that make up our main galleries today became vacant, and the collections were put on display there.

In 1985 we became a public body in our own right, now funded partly by a Grant-in-Aid from the MoD. Our name changed slightly to the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.
Between 1996 and 1999, the Victory Gallery and one of the storehouses (No 11) were completely refurbished under a £5.3 million project, all the money for which we raised ourselves, including a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

In 2008 the National Museum of the Royal Navy was formed, and publicly launched in September 2009 with a Victory ‘broadside’. The old Royal Naval Museum forms part of the National Museum, along with the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, the Royal Marines Museum on the Southsea seafront and the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.

In September 2010 we welcomed our first official affiliate, HMS Trincomalee, a Napoleonic Era frigate, based in Hartlepool.

We recently received backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund to assist us with our plans to develop and expand.  In 2011, we will be celebrating our Centenary.  It is an exciting time for us and the aim of this blog is to share our latest news and give you an insight into life behind the scenes at the museum.

We will also be keeping you up to date through our centenary and development blogs, which will be launching soon.