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A black and white photo of the exterior of the Museum and part of Falmouth Marina.

Celebrating our relationship with the sea

National Maritime Museum Cornwall is a place to enrich your understanding of the sea and Cornwall.

Through our exhibitions programme we aspire to bring new and diverse perspectives to maritime issues, and highlight their relevance to the present day. We also bring rare objects from around the world to Cornwall to tell local, national and international stories. Your admission fee is reinvested back into the museum to enhance and grow our work, which also includes our family learning activities; our award winning education programmes; our boat building and conservation; and our work to preserve and promote Cornwall’s maritime heritage.

The museum was officially opened in 2003 and is located on the aptly named Discovery Quay in Falmouth, south Cornwall.

What we do:


Some things you may not know about us:

Exterior aerial photo of National Maritime Museum Cornwall, in Falmouth. Pictured on a sunny day.

Stunning location

Sited beside the third largest natural deep-water harbour in the world, Britain’s traditional gateway to the Atlantic and one of Europe’s finest sailing waters.

Iconic building

The building was custom designed and built on land that was once covered in the sheds of boat builders. These sheds inspired the design of the building which is covered in green oak.

A woman and a young girl, both wearing masks, peer at objects on display in a cabinet in the Museum's 'Monsters of the Deep' exhibition.

What’s here

There are 15 galleries over 5 floors. Exhibits explore the overwhelming influence of the sea on local, national and global history and culture.

Boatbuilding workshop

Visitors can see shipwrights at work restoring and building boats in the boatbuilding workshop, which is respected as a centre for excellence in restoration, conservation and repair of traditional boats.


The museum’s collections consist of a range of objects, boats, art, books and archives.

Photo of the boats hanging from the ceiling of the Main Hall at National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

The National Small Boat Collection

The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. This is now housed in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other craft. This collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world. A maximum of length overall of 30ft (14.2m) is set for the collection although there are exceptions. A collection of objects and archives support the National Small Boat Collection.

Cornish Maritime Collection

Much of the Cornish Maritime Collection came from the former Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth. It contains objects, pictures, models and archives relating to the history of Cornwall and the sea, and Falmouth in particular.

The Bartlett Maritime Research Centre and The Bartlett Library

The museum’s research work is led by the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre which incorporates the Bartlett Library. The library houses a diverse collection of maritime reference books, periodicals and archive material for public consultation and reference. The main themes are: Cornwall maritime history, British and international shipping, the history of boats.

Formal education programme

Our award winning learning programme is the largest and most varied of its kind in Cornwall.

Family programming

The Museum delivers 118 days of free family learning activities every year.


Fathom is the Museum’s annual journal – inspired by and expanding on the Museum’s temporary exhibitions, permanent collections and wider cultural connections. The magazine brings together essays, articles, unseen imagery and artefacts.

To view the digital version of Issue 7, our latest edition of Fathom, click here.

Email to buy a physical copy and previous editions.

About Falmouth

Based around a thriving harbour (the third largest natural deep water harbour in the world), Falmouth is gateway to the beautiful Fal River which runs through an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The town is famous for its creative buzz with art galleries displaying contemporary works and venues showcasing independent films and live bands.

The many reasons to visit include the fascinating maritime heritage; the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the Helford and Fal Rivers – perfect for walking and family days out; watersports; boat trips running from the pier and quay; and plenty of family friendly attractions. Falmouth is surrounded by several fantastic family friendly beaches – Castle beach, Gyllyngvase beach, Swanpool beach and Maenporth beach – and is known for its year round events calendar.

Falmouth’s maritime legacy and coastal culture is a huge part of its charm boasting world class watersports on its sheltered waters including gig rowing, kayaking, diving and regularly hosting sailing events such as Falmouth Regatta, and the Pendennis Cup.

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

View Map
See our opening hours

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388

Book now

National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388