Sunday 22 January 2012

National Maritime Museum and Library

A visit yesterday to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich - a place I can shamefacedly confess I have never visited before - and a tour of the newly refurbished Caird Library.

The museum itself hosts all sorts of great stuff, from these relics of the doomed Franklin Exhibition ...

to a boat-pilotting simulator, where you can dock your vessel in Sydney or New York harbour, or choose to rescue drowning members of the public near Dover. [Hint - take your kids to that one!]

The Caird library has undergone a massive refurbishment, creating a state-of-the-art archive and study space for visitors. I particularly liked this arrangment, below

which is a device for seeing ships' plans - you move around the image on the small screen, and can blow up sections onto a much larger screen above (actually much bigger than my picture suggests). Apparently about 4000 of 1,000,000 of the archive's plans have been digitised; but there's more coming.

The library put a few of its treasures on display. The thing that caught my eye was this beautifully illustrated mid-Victorian diary, relating to a 3 month voyage to Australia in 1854. The pictures of the writers' cabin and the dining quarters were particularly lovely:

The tour ended with a behind-the-scenes look at the rolling stacks and a glance at the thousands of masters' certificates held by the library - currently awaiting digitisation by - which are a family history treasure trove for those of you with maritime ancestors.

My thanks to everyone at the Caird Libray for a fascinating tour.

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