National Maritime Museum Cornwall

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Top Tourist Attractions

The National Maritime Museum, Cornwall is located in a harbourside building at Falmouth in Cornwall, England. The building was designed by architect M. J. Long, following an architectural design competition managed by RIBA Competitions. 

National Maritime Museum Cornwall celebrates the incredible maritime history of Falmouth, Cornwall, and how the sea influences global culture. Explore 15 family-friendly galleries over 5 floors. Ascend the 100ft Look Out tower and see Falmouth’s famous harbour from the skies; descend into the Tidal Zone to appreciate one of only three natural underwater galleries in the world; and be spellbound by a sky filled with a flotilla of flying boats.

With a collection that spans The National Small Boat collection, exciting temporary exhibitions, artworks, maps and charts, memorabilia and other objects, and a boatbuilding workshop, there’s plenty to explore at this family-friendly museum.


Unique Exhibitions held from time to time are:

  • Monsters of the Deep

Take a deep breath and plunge into the dark murky depths of the ocean and discover the monsters that lurk beneath. Are there krakens with tentacles two miles long and giant sharks as big as skyscrapers?

Explore the centuries-old myths and legends, when chance sightings and odd appearances led to tall tales of deep-sea creatures. Learn how, even today, these stories continue to capture imaginations, full of fake news and conspiracy theories.

  • Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed

The exhibition challenges long-standing myths and pre-conceptions about tattooing when it comes to class, gender, and age, whilst at the same time celebrating the astonishingly rich artistic heritage of tattooing in the UK.

  • Coastguard 200

Through original objects, inspiring stories, and hands-on activities the exhibition celebrates the people who have dedicated themselves to saving lives at sea explores the changing technology of the last two centuries and celebrates the continuing contribution of the Coastguard at sea and on land.

  • I Saw a Monster

At National Maritime Museum Cornwall there’ll be performances of I Saw A Monster each day, we’re hunting for tentacles on the Museum Trail, and in Make & Take we’re creating our very own sea monster puppets.


  • The Main Hall

Your voyage of discovery begins in the Main Hall. Here you can orientate yourself in the building, admiring the hanging flotilla of small boats on display over your head.

Seek out the 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.

  • Flotilla

Flying across the top of the Main Hall is our flotilla of small boats from The National Small Boat collection. Preserving a collection of international importance, including craft used for survival, work, competition, leisure, pleasure, exploration, and war… from the Inuit kayak, a deadly hunter’s tool of skin and driftwood with an unbroken pedigree stretching back 10,000 years to the Mirror dinghy, as much a part of the ’60s social revolution as the Mini car.  The museum doesn’t just tell the story of inanimate objects – it relates the tales of the lives and the times of those who made and used them.

  • The Cornwall Galleries

In these galleries Cornwall’s unique maritime heritage can be explored over three floors, each focusing on different aspects of the industry, work, and communications.

  • The Falmouth Gallery – 2nd floor

Falmouth is the world’s third largest natural deep-water harbour and a sheltered haven for large ships. It was once the maritime hub of an Empire, so internationally important that in the 1880s 25 countries had consular representatives here. Explore the maritime history of Britain’s first and last port of call: from the Packet ships of the late 17th century to the heyday of Falmouth’s port in the 19th century and right up to the present day with the record-breaking achievements of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Dame Ellen MacArthur.

  • Cornwall and the Sea – 1st floor

Nowhere in Cornwall is more than 17 miles from the sea. This proximity has shaped both the landscape and its people. In this gallery, you can discover how Cornish people have made a living from the sea, how the local craft was built, and who sailed in them.

  • Tidal Zone

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

Climb to the top of the tower for breath-taking views over the harbour, docks, and estuary. Find out about historic buildings, local landmarks, coastal features, and special events and vessels in the harbour.


  • 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 the museum in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other crafts. This collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world. A maximum length overall of 30ft (14.2m) is set for the collection although there are exceptions.

  • The 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.

Educational Visit

The award-winning learning program is the largest and most varied of its kind in Cornwall. They offer your school group an unforgettable experience in the Museum’s inspirational spaces.

A range of curriculum workshops and hands-on learning activities for formal and informal education groups are offered. Each program is carefully tailored to the needs of your group.


  • Waterside Café

With spectacular views over Falmouth’s magnificent harbour, the Waterside Cafe is a popular port of call for museum visitors. A range of fresh cakes and snacks plus fair trade coffees and teas are available.


  • Gift Shop

Browse the selection of locally sourced, maritime-themed gifts, everything from silk scarves and children’s clothing to model boats and pirate flags. The shop is situated on the ground floor and is free to enter.

It is a wonderful place full of interesting maritime history and information on the growth of the town. Great for all ages, it is a must-go place, especially with kids. A great way to introduce youngsters to the sea is through this award-winning museum.