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The Gallery

The first room showcases the Isle of Wight as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and situates the museum at the heart of British maritime history from the 16th Century onwards, including a large spectacular reproduction of the Cowdray engraving of the sinking of the Mary Rose in 1545.


“Joe Carstairs – the Fastest woman on water” tells the story of this extraordinary powerboating pioneer through a collection of her trophies, photos and film footage.


The large exhibition room displays the museum’s collection of maritime artefacts, featuring Colliwobble as a centrepiece. Showing the human element and the social history of the Island, we exhibit Thomas Rowlandson’s 18th Century unique drawings of Island life, on loan from the collections of the Isle of Wight Heritage Service.

Special Exhibitions

We showcase Isle of Wight-based fine artist, Anna Keen's The Solent and Other Waters.


170 Years of the America's Cup learn about the Schooners, Cutters and Js (1851-1937), the 12 Metre Class (1958-1987), the International America's Cup Class (1992- 2007), and foiling on catamarans and monohulls (2013-the present) achieving fantastic speeds of 50 mph.

Work in Progress 

Two new exhibitions are in progress co-curated by our volunteers: 

Saving Lives at Sea celebrates the Bicentenary of the RNLI and complements our exhibition of lifeboats housed in the Boat Shed.

On special display is the Lamb and White Silver Model lifeboat, courtesy of the IOW Heritage Service. On the front of the base is a plaque 'To Andrew Lamb Esq., Southampton from John White, Cowes. The model records the designing of the boat and its introduction into the P+O Compys fleet in 1846. On the reverse is a maker's plaque 'Angell and Browne, Silversmiths, 10 Strand, London.' The model bears a London hallmark dated 1866 which indicates the maker was John Crane Salt.


The model is accompanied by an original softback book entitled Lamb and White's Patent Lifeboat (1883), published by J.S. White and printed by Kinsman and Co. of Cowes.



HMS Cavalier - 80th Anniversary is a collaborative exhibition with Chatham Historic Dockyard. The destroyer, HMS Cavalier, is the only remaining ship of this type and period and is a national monument dedicated to all those who served on such ships during WWII. She was built by J. Samuel White in East Cowes and launched in 1944. HMS Cavalier is on display at Chatham Historic Dockyard and her propellor is situated on the esplanade in East Cowes. The shipyards of the River Medina played a huge part in the industrial heritage of the Isle of Wight. Over 4,000 people were employed during the two World Wars and J. Samuel Wight built 39 different types of naval vessels including destroyers, frigates and torpedo boats. HMS Cavalier was fitted out in the Medina Yard, the Hammerhead Crane being used to lift the boilers and turbines fabricated in the engineering yard into the vessels. This exhibition explores the lives of the women and men, who built, sailed in and fought on HMS Cavalier during WWII.

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