Wednesday, July 9, 2014

National Maritime Museum

Today we visited the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. In order to get there, we took a clipper ride on the Thames. It is definitely the way to get around London! We got to see traitor's gate at the Tower of London! We also got up close views of London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Once we got to Greenwich, we found out they were filming a movie, so it was an exciting morning, and our tour hadn't even started!
Traitor's Gate

Once we got to the museum, we were able to tour the Caird Library and the museum archives. The Caird Library was very high tech. They had a digital database with ship plans. It was interactive and allowed the viewer to zoom in and examine the plans closely. They also had open access computers and microfilm viewers. James Caird gave most of the documents to the library in the 1930s, although they do still add to the collection today. 

Next, we got to go into the archives. It was noticeably cold, because they have temperature and humidity controls in place to preserve the materials. We also got to see some of the materials of interest that are stored in the archive. One of the items was a letter from Horatio Nelson regarding some unrest among a ship's crew. We also got to see an American signal book which was captured by the British. The Americans had to change their entire signaling system, because all ships used the same book and it was compromised once captured. 

Horatio Nelson's signature 

However, the most exciting thing we got to see was at the end of our tour. Mike Bevan, the archivist, took some of us into part of the archive to see a song written by Queen Elizabeth I. It was so incredible to be able to see something up close that was actually written by one of the most important historical figures in British history. It was so nice of Mike Bevan to take us into the archives just to see this document. 

Written by Queen Elizabeth I

This was a really interesting class visit. It was so exciting to see items from major historical figures. It was fascinating to think of how old these materials are, and how important it is for archivists to properly  handle and store them for future generations. Greenwich itself was also fun to explore. We got to stand on the Prime Meridian and visit the exhibits in the National Maritime Museum. 

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