Due to uncertainty around changing COVID regulations and the potential impact of sickness within our teams; NMRN may be required to adjust opening hours or close sites at short notice. Whilst all efforts will be made to avoid this and to contact ticket holders ahead of visits we do ask you to check our Facebook and Twitter accounts for details of closures. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding. 

Pre-booking is advised, and visitors must wear masks for their safety and the safety of others, unless exempt.

HMS Caroline remains temporarily closed. Find The Latest COVID-19 Updates Here.
 

 

Diving Deep HMS Invincible 1744 Year In Review 2021

Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 is on the road!


After a fabulous year at the National Museum of the Royal Navy the exhibition Diving Deep HMS Invincible 1744 is on the road, traveling to Chatham Historic Dockyard to be installed and opened in 2022!

Diving Deep is a National Lottery Funded exhibition about the archaeological excavation of the very first HMS Invincible which sank in the Solent back in 1758.

In this article we look back and reminiscence about the best bits and the challenges of opening and running an exhibition within a global pandemic.

 

The race to install

The team behind the exhibition remember the panicked race to get the exhibition installed back in September 2020.

Though the team were not locked down due to the essential nature of the conservation work that had to be completed to retain the integrity of the artefacts, there was a complicated tier system in place and working guidelines that naturally changed the speed at which the museum could normally install an exhibition.

Luckily the team had the support of an incredible network of museum volunteers, and the exhibition managed to open with a small, socially distanced private view to key stake holders in October 2020.

Having fun

Whenever we develop and install an exhibition we like to observe the public in the space to see how they engage with the new displays. We aren’t spying, we are watching to see whether we got it right and how we can improve future exhibitions.

The Diving Deep volunteers set up their clipboards and record sheets without looking too conspicuous to watch what people did with the new interactive displays.

The results are now in and we found out that Diving Deep was a place to play. We watched children pretend to be underwater archaeologists, get their dive kit on, swim around the exhibition and find the treasure.

We even watched adults play an elaborate eye-spy, watching the 180 degree film of the archaeological excavation and then looking for the objects they saw being excavated at the bottom of the Solent, in the exhibition cases.

 

Summer Storytelling

During the summer of 2021 we introduced visitors to Dangerous Dan the intrepid archaeologist, who wasn’t quite so intrepid when he meets a conger eel hiding in his air lift (the underwater version of an archaeologist’s trowel).

Diving Deep volunteers and professional actors spent the summer telling visitors stories about HMS Invincible. Though they were stories they were all based on some truth.

Dangerous Dan is a real archaeologist (although he would argue that he isn’t dangerous) and all the archaeologists who excavated the wreck of HMS Invincible did encounter the conger eels who have made the wreck their home.

Award Winning Exhibition

The Diving Deep volunteers have supported this project throughout and the museum is incredibly grateful for their hard work in helping us achieve the exhibition in such challenging times.

Not only did they help to design and write the exhibition, but then helped us to install it during a pandemic and do important review work. They have worked at home, online (the team all had to learn how to use zoom - who didn't!) and in person while wrapped up in PPE.

Their contribution was officially recognised when they won the prestigious South East Regional Marsh Award for museum volunteering and we couldn't be prouder of them and their achievement.

 

Where's Diving Deep next?

Diving Deep HMS Invincible 1744 is now on its way to Chatham Historic Dockyard. The Diving Deep volunteers have carefully packed up every object and loaded it into vans. This included the many meters of tar-soaked rope excavated from the wreck at the bottom of the Solent.

Community Archaeological Producer, Eileen Clegg, also integral to the exhbition's success drove the van and can say after two hours of breathing in strong-smelling tar, she said: "I was mighty glad to arrive!".

Diving Deep will open to visitors at Chatham early 2022, we hope they will have as much fun as we have had here at the National Museum of the Royal Navy sharing the story of HMS Invincible 1744.

Read more about the history of HMS Invincible.

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