National Museum of the Royal Navy strategy 2022-2027 and beyond
Linking Navy to Nation
A New Year’s Message from Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, sharing his thoughts on the future of the museum and announcing the publication of NMRN Trustees’ new strategy and the overarching vision of NMRN in 2035.
- January 2023
I would like to kick-off this new year’s message with a warm thanks on behalf of the Museum’s Trustees and myself for the incredible support we have received from our visitors, donors, Friends, partners, funders, volunteers, and local communities throughout 2022. I am very aware that each one of our sites depends on a network of unique relationships, and it is the enduring strength of those connections that enable us to tell the incredible story of the Royal Navy through our objects and collections.
Last year was our first full year without COVID enforced site closures since 2019, and what a relief it was to see our sites busy again, welcoming visitors of all ages and providing unforgettable days out.
Before our first closure in 2020, we were proud of the incredible progress we had made in our first ten years as a National Museum. From welcoming visitors from all over the world, to sharing the stories of our teams who work so hard to maintain the unique and irreplaceable items in our care, whilst also creating memorable events, exhibitions and experiences that surprised and delighted.
In 2022 we came back bigger and better, highlights include working in partnership with the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation to display Nelson’s letters as part of Nelson In His Own Words: Treasures; the refreshed Airfield at Sea – Aircraft Carrier Experience, financed by the generous legacy of Vice Admiral Sir Donald Gosling, which now brings the story bang up-to-date with the inclusion of the Queen Elizabeth class; the acquisition of TS Messina, soon to seem sailing round the Hartlepool basin; and the launch of HMS Victory’s Big Repair Live.
A challenging environment
Whilst I am proud of our successes, I do not shy away from sharing and addressing the challenges that the Museum has faced over the last three years and will continue to face in the future.
The financial conditions we operate under are tough, particularly when the proportion of our Grant-in-Aid to the income we self-generate thought admissions, fundraising and commercial activity is out of kilter with national museums across the country.
With costs escalating, and a tighter squeeze on peoples spending, our ability to generate the 80%+ of our income necessary to support the core work of protecting our collections will continue to stretch our staff team, particularly as the seek to identify and deliver new opportunities to generate more income. I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to thank our corporate partners Airbus, BAE Maritime Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Newton Europe, for their support, and to place on record our gratitude to the enduring support of the Gosling Foundation, the Michael Cobham Foundation, the Society for Nautical Research, Hartlepool Borough Council, the Art Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and last, but no means least, our Friends societies.
Like many other museums the Coronavirus pandemic prompted us to reflect on the role we play, not only nationally and internationally in telling the story of the Royal Navy, but at a local and regional level where our museums play a vital role in contributing to the tourist and visitor economy. The backdrop to this reflection is that we know people’s priorities have changed and will go on changing as they come to terms with the new economic and day-to-day challenges. We also know that visitors’ expectations have moved on, what they value in a museum experience is not necessarily the same as it was. The stories they expect us to explore and how we reflect the experiences and perspectives of the protagonists has altered. The expectations about how we present these stories has transformed too – technology and the integration of physical and virtual exhibitions is moving apace, and we need to respond.
This means that in 2022 our Trustees took a step back to understand who we are, who we want to be and what kind of role we want to play in the future: we needed a refreshed approach to lead us into the next 10 years and beyond.
As part of this work, our Trustees took on the challenge to consider a new vision for the Museum. We didn’t want to step away from the work we had been doing, but we wanted to evolve the way in which we expressed it, you can now see this shared on the website: to be the world’s most inspiring Naval Museum, linking Navy to nation.
NMRN in 2035
With this vision in place we began to imagine what the Museum might look like in 2035. That future includes ambitions to create a virtual global museum, to develop blended real and virtual experiences, to have invested heavily in our sites creating amazing days out, and working with key partners to create cultural campuses which explore arts, science, technology, and history alongside one another. If we’re successful, by 2035 millions more people will have explored the role of the Navy, engaged with some of the complex narratives, understood what the Royal Navy has achieved and how it has shaped the world, and recognised why it remains crucial to our nation’s role and place in the world today.
Stepping stones – Strategy 2022 – 2027: Linking Navy to nation
But NMRN 2035 will not happen overnight. We know that we need to put in place the framework to move towards these goals. Today we share the NMRN Strategy 2022: Linking Navy to Nation, which sets out the approach we will take over the next five years.
Our strategic aims underpin this framework and focus our attention in three areas:
- Sustainability (both environmental and financial)
From these aims we have developed a series of objectives which clearly connect our ambitions to a series of activities and programmes of work that our teams will deliver over the coming years.
This strategy is hugely valuable in providing our teams with a clear direction of travel and guidance about how we will prioritise that work. It also acknowledges the work we need to undertake with the Royal Navy itself, to harness their support for a vast range of projects and activities we seek to deliver.
The year ahead
As we embark on 2023, I want to finish this update where I began it, by acknowledging the role that our network of members, visitors, staff, volunteers, and local communities play in supporting the Museum.
There is no doubt that the last three years has slowed down some key projects and required us to prioritise other areas of the business. But I want to reassure you personally that we’re back – maybe not bigger, but definitely better than before.
I, for one, am already excited to see some of the plans for the year ahead - putting all 10 of the Armada Maps on show for the first time, re-opening HMS Caroline, and opening our World Beneath the Waves exhibition. Pushing on with our plans to open the Royal Marines Experience Museum in 2025, and in the meantime installing a display highlighting the Royal Marines participating at the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf. As well as ground-breaking conservation, research and public engagement work including, thanks to our corporate partners, an enhanced nationwide STEM programme.
I firmly believe Strategy 2022-2027: Linking Navy to nation helps us to define that work within the context of our wider aims and this time next year I look forward to reflecting on 2023 and seeing how close we will be to delivering NMRN 2035!
~ Dominic Tweddle
Download and read the full report (link below)