National Maritime Museum Cornwall (NMMC) would like to invite artists to produce a series of high quality site or exhibition-specific contemporary art, installations or events that will engage, challenge and excite our diverse audiences.

This is an exciting opportunity for artists to work with the award winning National Maritime Museum Cornwall in the context of its popular and critically acclaimed exhibition programme, including the recent Viking Voyagers and current Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed exhibitions.  (For Tattoo, the Museum was successful in securing Grants for the Arts funding to commission a series of innovative and visually stunning artworks and installations by contemporary tattoo artists that challenges cultural stereotypes about tattoos and tattooing as an art form.)

For 2017/18, each commission will be in response to the themes and artefacts within our major temporary exhibition Titanic Stories. The special, indeed unique, focus of the exhibition will be how we remember the Titanic – and how this has been shaped by newspapers, books and film, which have distorted or fictionalised actions and created heroes and villains. In this respect, it is not a story about people. It is a story about stories: about how events are interpreted and embroidered, how each generation reinvents the stories.

Please note: the final commissioning of work will depend on securing Grants for the Arts funding

Proposal focus: Lifeboat 13

Because of our association with small boats and the boatbuilding facilities within the Museum, we have established a tradition of building a boat to accompany our temporary exhibitions, each linked by the idea of ‘small boats big stories’.  It was natural therefore for us to build a lifeboat for Titanic stories. The most numerous lifeboat type (the ship carried fourteen of them) was a standard 30-foot (9.1metre) vessel. Identical to the other thirteen, we have chosen to badge our replica Lifeboat 13 because it represents an interesting range of individuals, from a baby with his mother and father to 3rd Class passenger Leah Aks whose own baby was taken from her and put into another lifeboat, from the Dulwich school-teacher Lawrence Beesley to the First Class millionaire Washington Dodge. Lifeboat 13 was the penultimate boat to be launched. Many of the lifeboats launched earlier were only partially filled because the crew were uncertain that the boats were strong enough to be lowered fully laden. Boat 13 was laden with 66 occupants when the situation was desperate and demonstrates that the launching system was perfectly adequate and many more passengers could have been saved had the crew been properly trained.

The replica lifeboat will be placed on the ground floor as one of the – if not the most – iconic objects in the exhibition: a solid, tactile presence contrasting with the ephemeral, ghost-like personal stories of tragedy and survival represented by each passenger.

We are looking to commission an artist to create work for display within or above the replica lifeboat that will engage visitors with this  evocative, layered and dramatic story.

We are completely receptive to artists’ own ideas and interpretations, and welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines.



Project Support


Submission requirements

All proposals should be sent to Stuart Slade, Head of Public Programmes


Our mailing address is:

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3QY