Today I visited the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Despite the stunning location and the close location of the excellent Royal Observatory it was seriously disappointing.
The Maritime Museum was one of those museums which despite being huge didn’t feel like it was full of anything. Several eating establishments, gifts shops and learning facilities left little room for actual museum. The exhibitions that were there did not contain much information and were absolutely horribly formatted. We’re talking about a museum which can’t even decide whether it wants to use capital letters or not. Sometimes a title for a plaque would start with lowercase, sometimes upper. I’m fairly sure the convention is to start with upper case but I’d accept the situation if lower case letters were used consistently (e.g. the north east passage), this was not the case. Galleries mixed subjects and didn’t appear to be in any sort of chronological order. Crucial displays on the arctic naval passages only used Mercator projections when clearly a globe is necessary to stress that these are significantly shorter voyages and hence of interest. Display cases were also inadequately labelled and became a hunt the number type of affair.
It also emerged quite quickly that the museum was probably not for me. I’ve not got a huge interest in different variations of vehicle as was clear in my review of the War Museum. Several galleries contain ship after model ship and I haven’t sufficient interest or curiosity to be interested in the variations and differences. Little attention was paid to the human side of stories. Voyages like Ernest Shackleton’s were consigned to solitary displays where they could easily stretch to several and tell an engrossing story.
The second and third floors of the museum were slightly better and contained more information but committed the cardinal sin of mixing food and gallery. Since it was a little bit past lunchtime the smells made me feel quite hungry so I left earlier than I planned and enjoyed the food market which Greenwich had to offer. Tasty!