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.

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.