The National Maritime Museum Cornwall has 15 galleries, over five floors.
The Main Hall
You will start your journey in the Main Hall. Here you can orientate yourself in the building, admiring the hanging Flotilla display over your head. At the heart of this display is the enormous Thames steam launch, Waterlily, a memory of an age of elegance, idleness and long, sunny, summer days. Dating from 1866, she was one of the earliest such pleasure craft on the Thames and helped set the trend for the Edwardian era that followed.
Beyond, in the Survival Zone is Edna Mair, the tiny dinghy in which the Robertson family – five people and a friend – survived for 38 days in the Pacific after their yacht had been holed. This is one of the great ocean survival stories of modern times.
Boat building workshop
At the far end of the Main Hall you can see shipwrights at work restoring and building boats in our Boatbuilding Workshop.
The Hold is our largest single exhibition space where we install our major exhibitions. In 2017 our exhibitions are Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed and Captain Bligh: Myth, Man and Mutiny.
Flying across the top of the Main Hall is our flotilla of small boats from The National Small Boat collection.
The Falmouth Gallery
Falmouth’s incredible maritime history is celebrated through objects, journals, listening posts, interpretation, photographs and interactive displays.
Cornwall and the Sea
Here you can discover how Cornish people have made a living from the sea, how local craft were built and who sailed in them. Exhibits explore Falmouth’s role in global communication and trade, along with the development of Cornwall’s migratory links around the world. Witness the stories of dramatic rescues off the Cornish coast.
Listen to tales of the lives of Cornish fishermen in their own words. Find out how sails were traditionally made and explore how pilchards were pressed in our reconstruction of a pilchard cellar.
In the Tidal Zone you can go underwater and look out into the harbour through two large windows – if you stand there long enough you’ll see the tide rise and fall. Take a really close look and you could catch a glimpse of a cormorant diving after a fish, crabs, shrimps and much more. Here you can learn more about the effects of the Moon and Sun and what causes the tides. Interactive displays also introduce some of the animals and plants that live in the estuary, a Special Conservation Area with a wide diversity of species.
The Lookout Tower
Climb to the top of the tower for breathtaking views over the harbour, docks and estuary. The Look Out is a ‘must see’ for all visitors. Find out about historic buildings, local landmarks, coastal features, and special events and vessels in the harbour
Look north across the water toward the village of Flushing, former home of Packet Ship captains, or inland to the west and Custom House Quay where the customs used to land contraband goods seized from ships. There are binoculars and telescopes for you to use, and a series of maps so you can build up the history of the harbour and its surroundings.
The learning space for our schools’ workshops during term time and children’s activities during the school holidays. It is also home to a Temporary Exhibition space.
The Nav Station
What do sailors need to know about the weather and navigation? Can you steer a boat through a narrow channel? How are charts made and how do you use them? This gallery is full of interactive exhibits that give you an insight into the art of navigation and meteorology
Experience even more of the sea on the Pontoon directly in front of the building. From here you can view the boats on the water.