Members of the Year 10 Athenaeum have recently visited the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre in Kidbrooke and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The Prince Philip Centre opened in 2018 gave the students a fascinating insight into the world behind the scenes of a museum. Following a group exercise considering all the many and varied roles of those working at the Centre, they had a tour of the facility exploring how artefacts are evaluated, stored, photographed and maintained. One of the highlights was seeing restoration work being done on a three-hundred-year-old painting.

The visit to the Maritime Museum allowed the students to build on work done by Head of History Dr Davies in last week’s session about how perceptions of the past are constantly shifting in the light both of new evidence and particularly concerns about how many versions of the past are selective and misrepresentative. Using the very live issue of the history of British Imperialism he showed the significant changes in view since the 1950s and the real sense in which history is a dialogue between the present and the past.

As the students explored the Maritime Museum they were given visible evidence of the process mentioned above as the gallery on the Atlantic, which deals with the trade in enslaved people, had a message next to the exhibition saying “work in progress”. An information panel then explained how this display (only created in 2007) “…no longer reflects the approaches of ambitions of the National Maritime Museum.” The students explored the Museum not only to study the exhibits but to think about how museums operate: why do they include what they do, are they presenting a particular narrative, to what extent do they shape or reflect opinion?

In the spirit of the Scholarship Programme the day encouraged students to think across many disciplines and to constantly question and look “behind the scenes.”


We recently went on a trip to Greenwich where we were taught about some of the history within it.

My group started off the day at the Prince Phillip Maritime Collections centre. We were taken around the facility where we met the people behind different stages in the preparation of items for exhibition at the Maritime Museum. We began with a quick overview on just how many jobs it takes to run The Royal Museum of Greenwich as a whole, before being shown the unloading area in which items are transported in and out of the facility. We learned that it isn’t all that simple due to how many precautions must be followed to avoid bringing in harm such as pests into the facility. Next, we were taken to a restoration room where we were taught about just how much work goes behind preparing paper items for exhibition. We were then shown around the archives area where we observed shelves of historical items kept under strict conditions to ensure their longevity. We were shown up close some Ship’s biscuits and a teddy bear named ‘humphrey’ which belonged to Tracy Edwards and was the mascot of the first all-female crew to sail around the world. We then made it to the photography area where images of items are taken. Finally, we saw some oil painting archives and were lucky enough to see the famous Battle of Trafalgar painting up close due to repairs being undertaken at the Maritime Museum.

We then went to Greenwich park and by the Royal observatory, we learned about the statue of General James Wolfe. We then walked to the Maritime museum and looked at a few exhibitions. In the Atlantic Worlds gallery, we learned about the ways attitudes are changing towards how the Transatlantic slave trade is depicted in Britain and how the Museum aims to reflect this within their exhibit.

I found this trip very interesting having grown up visiting the Maritime Museum very often, and not being aware of the work that goes behind putting it together for the public view.


In June, I and a small group of other students visited the Prince Philip Maritime Collection in Kidbrooke. We followed the journey of an item as it made its way through the process of getting ready to either be stored or go into a collection. The most interesting part for me was the restoration studio, where items are preserved and prepared to go on display. Our group in particular were able to focus on the material paper, and we took a look at some intricate, bygone maps and books.

We got to have an extensive chat with an expert in paper and it was interesting to see what her day-to-day work is like. Although restoring a book may seem simple, it comes with huge responsibility and controversial aspects. It is not an easy task to decide how much of an item should be retouched or just cleaned particularly as so many museum stakeholders voice their differing opinions on this debate. I feel as though the trip was a very valuable experience for me and was an eye opener in terms of the hard work and long hours that go into ensuring an item is ready for display, even if it can only be viewed for a few months.


Throughout our trip to the Prince Phillip maritime museum, I was especially moved by the ways in which all the tiny elements of the museum, were able to add up and create an extraordinary story surrounding the cultures and heritages of many people around the world, particularly those in East Asia and Africa.

Whilst exploring the museum (in particular the astronomy section), I came across a beautiful photograph of the full yellow moon on the Jin Yun Mountains in China, in addition to the picture of ‘The Great Solar Flare” which was taken in Germany. These photographs made me give thought to how beautiful our world truly is today, and the unique stories that have arisen from many of the artifacts and photographs that I had the opportunity to look at.


During our visit to the Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre, I was captivated by the meticulous process of restoring centuries-old paintings. The renovation of a painting might seem deceptively simple at first, so it was surprising to witness the layers of care and effort required. The process is painstakingly long, and great care must be taken to handle the fragile canvases.

Imagining the dedication of conservators in their work was truly awe-inspiring. The restoration of these paintings is crucial, as it helps preserve our rich cultural heritage for future generations whilst also honouring their original creators. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and these artworks provide invaluable insights into our past, offering a window into the lives, beliefs, and experiences of those who came before us. The trip provided us with valuable insight into the work of conservators throughout history, and I greatly admire their commitment and tenacity.