Museum history and range of work
At the instigation of a committee of the Bermuda
National Trust, the Museum was established in 1974, opening
to the public the following spring. Queen Elizabeth II gave the
fledgling institution a stamp of approval on her visit to Bermuda
in late 1974 and the Earl of Mountbatten opened the Museum in 1975.
An Act of Parliament in 1978 officially set the seal on the creation
of the Museum and its long-term tenure of the Keep of the Dockyard,
possibly one of the finest sites in the world for such an institution.
Constituted as a charity, the Board of Trustees hired the first
professional staff in 1980, prior to and after which volunteers
carried out much good work. The advent of major capital fundraising
in 1987 advanced the Museum in many ways and the completion of the
structural restoration of Commissioner’s House in 2000 marked
another major development.
With public support and the hard work of volunteers and staff the
Museum has grown to become the largest in Bermuda and has provided
a valued destination for more than a million visitors.
Since its inception, the Museum has conducted archaeological research
on terrain and underwater sites around Bermuda. Field school students
from various associated universities, interns, and volunteers provide
the bulk of labour for these projects and in return receive valuable
training and experience.
Bermuda Maritime Museum’s collections
are the largest and most wide-ranging on the island, exceeding 30,000
objects that span the 16th–21st Centuries. The Museum’s
fascinating collections are acquired through gifts, purchases, and
archaeology and include photographs, documents, plans, paintings,
manuscripts and books, oral testimonies, archaeological specimens,
boats, ship models, and a wide range of maritime artifacts.
Conservation is a key component of the Museum’s long-term
commitment to the preservation of Bermuda’s material culture.
A conservator and a team of interns and volunteers use the Museum’s
purpose-built laboratory to conserve and restore a variety of artifacts
in our collections.
Combined scholarly research, including historical, archaeological
and curatorial study, is the backbone of the Museum’s exhibitions,
publications, and extensive information corpus.
Exhibits on a wide range of maritime and historical subjects relating
to Bermuda are housed in eight historic buildings within the Keep.
The Museum’s exhibitions aim to concisely present a combination
of scholarly research, archaeology, visual media, artifacts and
material culture on a given subject.
Since the mid-1980s, the Museum has published a number of books,
a major magazine, MARITimes,
and an annual academic journal, The
Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History.
The Museum extends its efforts beyond the physical confines of
the Keep by carrying out archaeological and preservation projects
throughout the Island. The Museum was instrumental in the designation
of St. George’s and its associated fortifications as a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO in late 2000, as well as in the passage
of the Historic Wrecks Act 2001 for the protection of underwater
heritage. The Museum’s trustees, staff, and volunteers have
been a major advocate of preservation of many facets of local heritage
for many years.