Case Studies

National Maritime Museum - Curator of Contemporary Maritime Impacts

Lloyd’s Register Foundation Public Curator

Grant awarded: £500,000

Timeframe: 2018-2024



The role of Curator of Contemporary Maritime Impacts at the National Maritime Museum will promote public awareness and understanding of the connections between maritime history and contemporary maritime issues such as trade, migration, technology and the environment, working with the wider maritime community to achieve this impact.


Through this new post and the convening role we aspire to develop for the Museum over the 6 years of the project, we will reach and bring together diverse audiences – whether maritime specialists, the media or the general public – to inform, discuss and debate the contemporary maritime world. We will also have contributed towards a change in the way the role of a curator is perceived within the NMM (and the wider cultural heritage sector), leading to new ways of engaging with the public. As a result, the public will benefit from a greater consciousness and understanding of the interconnectivity of contemporary maritime issues, their impact on the lives of the British people and our relationship to the wider world.


Laura Boon spoke about her work at the Lloyd's Register Foundation International Conference in 2019. She considered how relevant or irrelevant maritime heritage is percieved to be in our modern day lives. By considering the idea of shifting baseline syndrome, whereby we base our idea of change on our own life-time experiences, Laura explores a fisheries case study on population change and notes how we need to look back beyond our own lifetimes to gain a full understanding of change. In relation to the National Maritime Museum she noted that it has thousands of potential data sets just waiting to be made accessible by the public so that they can be fully explored and used to inform current day thinking. Laura also talked about the changes in technology from sail to wide-spread use of fossil fuels, and how the shipping industry can work to overcome environmental challenges by learning from previous technologies, such as hybrids and flettnor rottors. 

Support for the role of Curator of Contemporary Maritime Impacts at the National Maritime Museum (NMM), London has been extended to 2024. Curator Laura Boon is working with the Museum team to strategically advance public education and understanding of maritime issues. This has included leading events for World Oceans Day, collecting and digitising merchant navy oral histories, and leading the curatorial strand of the incredibly successful Ice Worlds Festival. Staged in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey to celebrate the maiden voyage of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, the festival welcomed over 30,000 visitors to NMM across three days. The Our Ocean, Our Planet online hub continues to grow. The showcase exhibition ‘Exposure: Lives at Sea’ has also been extended, allowing more visitors to see it in person and to learn about the lives of those working at sea. It has been showcased at several events with representatives from the maritime industries and donors to the Museum including London International Shipping week and the Foundation’s Safer World Conference.