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We're changing the way we deal with our collections and archives enquiries

From Friday 21 December 2018, The National Museum of the Royal Navy will no longer be providing a direct enquiry line for curatorial services. We are undertaking a very large collections move involving millions of objects and we won’t be able to respond to enquiries in the way we have been. But we have put in place a number of ways you can still get the information you need.

We are unfortunately unable to complete research on the behalf of enquirers. Our Information Bank is a good resource which answers many questions or suggests other resources to help. 

A limited number of photographs from the NMRN collections are available to order from the Print on Demand catalogue. Please note the museum does not hold official service records within our collections.

What is the reason behind the change?

We suffered a considerable setback during 2018 when the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) turned down our bid for a new Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and a national collection centre on the same site. As a result, we have had to prioritise how we spend our money and our curators spend their time over the next 18 months. We now have a critical need to move one million historic items from the now-closed Royal Marines Museum because the building is not fit for purpose as a museum and the collection is at risk. Without the expected external funding, we have had to make a hard choice and have reallocated staff resources from running the enquiry service to work on moving these collections. 

These items, in 20 storerooms over five floors in a building that is over 150-years-old, range from small photographs and medals to very large cannon and paintings and each and every item needs to be packed, moved and its condition assessed before we put it into new, improved accommodation. 

How will the change impact historical enquiries?

The change will affect how we respond to historical enquiries or requests for access to the collections as well as facilitating research appointments and reproduction requests.

As our collections are packed and moved, these types of requests will simply become physically impossible to action. Whilst our response to requests will change, we’ll be providing members of the public with more ways to access our collections than ever before.

Better face to face contact

Traditionally, the National Museum has always relied on the main curatorial email address as a way for members of the public to contact us directly. Now, you can visit one of five locations across the UK and meet face to face with a curatorial member of the team. Throughout the year, dates are offered for members of the public to attend our “Ask the Archives” events and visit our team to learn more about their naval heritage. Dates and locations are decided every quarter – so it’s worth checking out what’s on to learn more about them. Look at our news and events section for up to date information on our Ask the Archives events. 

New ways to view collections

Ensuring our collections are as accessible as possible to the public is important to us. That’s why we’re launching a brand new online collections portal. We’ll be updating it on an ongoing basis as our curatorial team add new resources to the system. It’s a great way of viewing our ever-expanding collection online anywhere, at any time. We will first launch this portal with access to artefacts and archives from HMS Warrior.

Your questions answered

To help better understand the changes taking place, we’ve put together a list of short FAQs.

How can I submit an item to the collection?

We’re always grateful for items being given to the museum – we will still be accepting offers. Please submit your request to acquisitions@nmrn.org.uk.

What happens if I want to view something I have donated?

Our curatorial team are always here to speak with people who have donated their artefacts. With the changes taking place, it may take up to two months to respond to requests. If you would like to arrange to view specific items, please email library@nmrn.org.uk or write to:

Library, The National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth, PO1 3NH

What if I would like something from your collection?

We are always happy to speak with individuals interested in loaning material from our collection on a case by case basis. Please bear in mind that requests for materials may take up to two months. If you would like to view specific items, please email library@nmrn.org.uk or write to:

Library, The National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth, PO1 3NH

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands