Naval museums prepare to reopen after pandemic lockdown

April 28, 2021 – The nation’s premier historic naval museum reopens on May 17 with hi-tech displays to welcome visitors back after a five-month break.

Staff in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard have used the enforced closure of the site by the pandemic lockdown to complete telling the story of HMS Victory, her crew and battles, with a new, interactive gallery.

The dockyard last welcomed tourists six days before Christmas and with more than 80 per cent of the historic dockyard’s revenue coming from visitors, the site has been hit hard by the pandemic.

The Royal Navy has provided more than £4.4m to the National Museum while the government’s ‘cultural recovery fund’ has provided more than £1.2m to support both the Mary Rose and the boatbuilding academy on site.

“Without visitors, we will not survive,” said Professor Dominic Tweddle, the national museum’s director general. “They are our lifeblood. We have sought to use this period to continue to develop our offer. Ours is a world-class experience and we are optimistic that this summer will be a safe and memorable one.”

The new gallery – HMS Victory: The Nation’s Flagship – occupies the original museum on the site, built opposite the great vessel and constructed in large part to house William Wyllie’s panorama of Trafalgar (13 meters long, four high).

The huge painting has been redisplayed and digitally reinterpreted so visitors can get even closer to it – and understand it better.