I was lucky enough to attend my first ever UK Maritime Heritage Forum at the start of October. This year’s conference took place at the impressive National Maritime Museum in London. Kevin Fewster, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, introduced the event as keynote speaker but we were soon introduced to a range of presenters who detailed new approaches they had taken in interpreting maritime heritage, and the challenges facing the maritime world today.
There was a quick chance to tour the four new Endeavour galleries at the museum: Polar Worlds, Pacific Encounters, Tudor & Stuart Seafarers and Sea Things, before being transferred by coach to the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre.
Here we were shown around their new purpose built conservation labs and storage facility and had the opportunity to discuss issues around curating maritime collections with other people working in the maritime sector whether in local and national museums, voluntary run projects or enthusiasts in their field.
The second day of the conference provided us with updates on the maritime projects taking place across the UK from the Residential Boat Owners Association to the RNLI to the Scottish Maritime Museum. The afternoon session invited a number of societies and museums to give their experiences of working with volunteers and how approaches had changed over the years to facilitate different areas of specialisms.
A tour around the Queens House revealed the stunning art collection the Royal Museums have on display to the public including the recently restored Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.
The final session was a chance to hear about the partnerships and collaborations between the Royal Museums Greenwich and local museums across the UK through loans of various objects.
The entire conference was very well organised and was a great opportunity for people working in all areas of maritime heritage to meet and discuss their projects, help and advise others as well as gain contacts for future partnerships. Getting to see such a brilliant museum was a big added bonus!