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National Maritime Museum

national maritime museum

All Hands on Deck at National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Located right at Falmouth’s historic quayside, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall brings the oceans of the world thrillingly close through interactive galleries, special events and hands-on experiences celebrating our intimate connections with the sea across ages.

Our guide describes the best family-friendly exhibits, activities and facilities across this beacon institution shining a light on Falmouth’s longstanding maritime heritage and global sea-faring exploits alike.

falmouth maritime museum

Getting to National Maritime Museum Falmouth

Based in Discovery Quay overlooking Falmouth Harbour, use postcode TR11 3QY then follow brown tourist signs towards the museum.

By Car – QCP short stay car park is directly opposite NMMC with all-day parking at The Moor (TR11 3QA) or Prince of Wales Pier (TR11 3TN).

By Train – Falmouth Town station sits just 550 yards from the museum gates.

By Ferry – Passenger ferries from St Mawes dock at Custom House Quay barely 160 feet away.

Opening Times and Entry Prices

The Museum is open every day of the year from 10am – 5pm, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Admission

Adults £16.90 | Kids (5-16) £8.50 | Under 5 Free

When you buy a ticket, it gives you a 12 month pass, so you can return as often as you like in that year.

yachts at national maritime museum

Beyond the Sails: Uncovering Falmouth’s Maritime Mysteries

Stepping into the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth feels like diving into an ocean of maritime tales. But beyond the grand ships and salty flags, hidden treasures await those who dare to explore deeper. Prepare to be swept away by:

  • A Tiny Giant: Nestled amongst towering vessels, find the “St. Elmo,” a pocket-sized lifeboat barely reaching your knees. This heroic mini-ship saved 14 lives in a ferocious storm, reminding us big adventures come in small packages.
  • Whispers of War: Look closely at the seemingly ordinary map in the Navigation Gallery. Its faint pencil markings reveal escape routes plotted by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars. History, it seems, can hide in plain sight.
  • Shipwrecks & Sea Serpents: Delve into the “Shipwrecks” exhibit, where salvaged treasures from the deep tell gripping tales of disaster and triumph. Hold a piece of wood from the ill-fated “RMS Titanic,” or marvel at a colossal anchor, a silent titan of the underwater world.
  • A Message in a Bottle: In the Communication Gallery, witness a centuries-old bottle holding a coded message sent by a ship lost at sea. Imagine the desperation and hope behind each cryptic symbol, and let your imagination sail across the waves of time.
maritime museum main hall

Examples of Exhibitions at the Museum

The National Maritime Museum regularly updates it’s major exhibitions, but to give you a flavour of the sort of thing they have, here are examples of some previous exhibitions:

Sailing with Scallywags: The Enduring Allure of Pirates (Until December 2024)

Ahoy, mateys! Currently gracing the museum’s galleries is the swashbuckling exhibition, Pirates. Plunge into the world of these daring rogues, from the romanticized buccaneers of Hollywood to the gritty reality of life on the high seas. Witness authentic pirate weapons, treasure maps, and even a fearsome Jolly Roger flag that once flew from a real pirate ship.

Discover the stories of infamous pirates like Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, and learn about the code of conduct – or lack thereof – that governed their lives. You’ll be surprised to find that pirates weren’t just bloodthirsty plunderers; they were skilled navigators, cunning strategists, and often surprisingly democratic in their shipboard societies.

Monsters of the Deep (2020 – 2023): Where Fact Meets Fantasy

Did you ever wonder what lurks beneath the ocean’s surface? The Monsters of the Deep exhibition, which ran until 2023, took you on a thrilling journey through the realm of mythical sea creatures and their real-life counterparts. From the gargantuan Kraken of legend to the colossal squid that inspired Jules Verne’s Nautilus, the exhibition explored the fascinating intersection of myth and reality in the depths of the sea.

Interactive exhibits allowed visitors to learn about the biology and behavior of these awe-inspiring creatures, while artistic interpretations and historical accounts painted a vivid picture of their place in human imagination. Whether you believe in sea serpents or not, Monsters of the Deep guaranteed to leave you with a newfound respect for the ocean’s mysteries.

Titanic Stories (2018 – 2019): A Legacy of Tragedy and Triumph

In 2018-2019, the National Maritime Museum commemorated the 107th anniversary of the Titanic’s fateful voyage with the poignant exhibition, Titanic Stories. Through artifacts, personal accounts, and multimedia presentations, the exhibition delved into the human drama of the disaster, showcasing the heroism, heartbreak, and resilience of those onboard.

Visitors encountered personal belongings of passengers and crew, learned about the ship’s construction and technology, and explored the impact the tragedy had on maritime safety regulations. Titanic Stories wasn’t just a retelling of a historical event; it was a testament to the enduring human spirit and a reminder of the power of collective memory.

A Glimpse into Past Exhibitions: From Vikings to Tattoos

The National Maritime Museum’s past exhibitions offer a glimpse into the breadth and depth of its offerings. In 2017, Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed delved into the fascinating history and cultural significance of tattooing in Britain, while Captain Bligh: Myth, Man and Mutiny explored the complex legacy of the infamous Bounty captain.

They also had the amazing Viking Voyagers (2016), which transported visitors to the world of these daring explorers and skilled seafarers? Each exhibition at the National Maritime Museum is a carefully curated adventure, offering a unique lens through which to view the vast and captivating world of the sea.

With its ever-changing exhibitions and engaging programs, the museum is a constant source of wonder and a must-visit for anyone who wants to discover the magic of the sea.

boats

Facilities at the Museum

Waterside Cafe: Quick Bites & Harbour Views

  • Location: Ground floor, overlooking the harbor
  • Cuisine: Light bites, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pasties, chowder, salads, soups, coffee, tea, cakes
  • Perfect for: A quick refuel, lunch with a view, relaxing with a book after exploring
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair-friendly, spacious and airy

Gift Shop: Haul Your Own Treasures

  • Location: Ground floor, near the exit
  • What you’ll find: Model ships, maps, nautical books, jewelry, scarves, sea glass items, children’s toys,educational games
  • Perfect for: Souvenirs for all ages, unique gifts, locally-made crafts
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair-friendly, spacious aisles

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the museum accessible? – The museum is fully accessible with lifts, ramps, and accessible toilets. They also offer audio guides and braille information for some exhibits.

Are dogs allowed? – Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome in the outdoor areas of the museum, but not inside the galleries.

Are there any boat tours available near the museum? – Falmouth offers various boat tours, from scenic cruises exploring the harbour and coastline to exhilarating sailing trips and wildlife-watching expeditions. Check with Falmouth Boat Trips at the side of the harbour.

nat maritime museum

Nearby Attractions

Pair a voyage through amazing oceanic heritage at the National Maritime Museum with…

The National Maritime Museum ignites a passion for the sea, but your Cornish adventure doesn’t have to end there. Falmouth and its surroundings offer a treasure trove of attractions, each promising a unique experience waiting to be discovered. So, after you’ve explored the museum’s depths, set sail for these nearby gems:

  • Pendennis Castle: Stand guard, captain! Built by Henry VIII, this mighty fortress offers panoramic harbor views and whispers of Tudor history through its ramparts and dungeons.
  • Gyllyngvase Beach: Sun, sand, and surf! This golden crescent beach is your gateway to seaside bliss. Build sandcastles, ride the waves, or simply soak up the Cornish sunshine.
  • Falmouth Art Gallery: Art in the harbor! Discover contemporary exhibitions and permanent collections housed in a stunning Art Deco building with captivating sea views.
  • Swanpool & Swanvale Nature Reserve: Seek serenity amidst salt marshes and woodlands. Spot birds fluttering through reeds, kayak along tranquil waterways, or simply breathe in the fresh sea air.
  • National Lobster Hatchery: Witness the miracle of life! Learn about the fascinating life cycle of lobsters and peek into their underwater world at this unique hatchery.
  • Trebah Garden: Nature’s wonderland awaits! Explore sub-tropical gardens bursting with exotic plants, meander through bamboo groves, and discover hidden bridges and waterfalls.
  • Helford River: Cruise into tranquility! Embark on a boat trip through this picturesque estuary, spot seals basking on rocks, and marvel at ancient woodland clinging to the riverbanks.
  • Killigrew Monument: A beacon of history! Climb the steep path to this iconic landmark for breathtaking views of Falmouth and a peek into the town’s rich maritime past.
  • Cornish Seal Sanctuary: Meet flippered friends! Witness rescued seals playing in their pools, learn about their conservation, and marvel at the grace of these ocean predators.

From storm-battered packet ships to lighthouse beacons glowing through the fog, Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum brings stirring and sometimes sinister nautical stories vividly to life for sailors of all ages and imaginations to enjoy.

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