Narrating the long, briny and eventful history of seafaring Britain, this excellent museum's exhibits are arranged thematically, with highlights including Miss Britain III (the first boat to top 100mph on open water) from 1933, the 19m-long golden state barge built in 1732 for Frederick, Prince of Wales, the huge ship's propeller and the colourful figureheads installed on the ground floor. Families will love these, as well as the ship simulator and the 'All Hands' children's gallery on the 2nd floor.
Under eights can get to grips with all things nautical in the 'Ahoy!' gallery, also on the ground floor. Adults are likely to prefer the other fantastic (and slightly more serene) galleries. Voyagers: Britons and the Sea on the ground floor is an introduction to the collection and showcases some of the museum's incredible archives. JMW Turner's largest work – controversial for its chronological inaccuracies – the huge 1824 oil painting The Battle of Trafalgar, is hung in its namesake gallery on the ground floor.
On the 1st floor, Traders: the East India Company and Asia looks back on Britain's maritime trade with the East in the 19th century, while The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire explores the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and America from the 1600s to the 1850s.
On the 2nd floor, the award-winning Nelson, Navy, Nation 1688–1815 focuses on the history of the Royal Navy during the conflict-ridden 17th century. It provides an excellent look at the legendary national hero and, through documents and memorabilia, explains his achievements and dazzling celebrity. The coat in which Nelson was fatally wounded during the Battle of Trafalgar takes pride of place.
Opened in 2018, the new Exploration Wing contains four galleries: Pacific Exploration, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers and Sea Things, devoted to the theme of exploration and human endeavour.