National Maritime Museum Falmouth UK

The museum exists to promote an understanding of small boats and their place in people's lives as well as to champion the maritime heritage of Cornwall.


Among paintings and photographs, telescopes, logbooks, whale-tooth carvings and lifebelts, you'll find Old Stan's salmon fishing boat and Ellen MacArthur's Christmas tree. Go underwater in the Tidal Zone; try steering a boat in the Nav Station; and enjoy breathtaking views of the harbour, docks and estuary from the Look Out.

Permanent collections

The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. It is now housed in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other craft. The collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world.

Much of the Cornish Maritime Collection comes from the former Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth and contains objects, pictures, models and archives relating to the history of Cornwall and the sea, and Falmouth in particular. Material relating to the Falmouth Packet Ships is of particular interest and includes six watercolours by Maltese artist Cammillieri.

The museum is also home to the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Diploma Collection, consisting of around 100 works of art.

Art Funded works

A naval presentation sword and scabbard dating from 1814 by makers Rundell, Bridge and Rundell was acquired by the museum in 2006 with assistance from the Art Fund. The sword was presented in 1814 by passengers on board the packet ship the 'Duke of Marlborough' to Mr William Macdonnell, the ship's Master. Its inscription records that it was awarded for gallant conduct under his Captain, John Bull, in action against the British Royal Navy frigate the 'Primrose' in a wartime friendly fire incident in the Bay of Biscay in March 1814. As with other swords of the Napoleonic War period it is decorated with nationalistic and heroic symbolism such as a British lion-head pommel and engravings of Neptune and the Labours of Hercules.

Visitor information

The museum's Waterside Café is an ideal place to stop for lunch or afternoon tea to take in wonderful views over the harbour at Falmouth. The café offers a wide range of dishes, locally sourced where possible. Don't miss the museum shop offering a variety of nautical themed gifts including hand-crafted models, souvenirs, books, postcards, and posters as well as locally crafted jewellery and ceramics designed exclusively for the museum.

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