Cutting edge designers sought as new Marines’ museum progresses

Topic: CommunityEvents Storyline: Museums

The hunt is on for leading architects and designers to turn an historic boathouse in Portsmouth to tell the story of the Navy and Royal Marines to a mid-21st Century audience.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy has laid down the gauntlet to exhibition designers and artisans to create an innovative gallery which will house temporary displays.

The new exhibition space is at the heart of the new £14m Royal Marines Museum.

The museum has been closed since 2017 as it moves from its longstanding home in Eastney to a site inside Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The project was put on hold when an initial bid for National Lottery funding was rejected, but – having redrawn the plans for the new-look story of 360 years of the Corps – a fresh bid is being submitted.

The result turns Boathouse No.6 into not just the new ‘Royal Marines Experience Museum’, but there will also be 400 square metres set aside for temporary/travelling exhibitions. In addition there’ll be a Commando-themed Laser Quest, as well as conference facility.

For nearly a quarter of century the building has housed the Action Stations exhibit, which gives visitors a taste of life aboard and operations involving Royal Navy warships around the globe.

Its renovation and revamp will create the dockyard’s first dedicated temporary exhibition space with the hope that changing displays – perhaps widening the ‘menu’ to the broader arts, culture and heritage beyond purely naval history – will pull in new visitors, boosting the 870,000 tourists drawn to the historic site annually.

“The Royal Marines story is central to the story of the Royal Navy and therefore to the purpose of the Museum and we want to use the latest interpretative and digital techniques to really bring this story to life,” explained Matthew Sheldon, interim director general of the National Museum.

“Our vision as a museum to connect Navy with Nation is never more evident than in this project.”

The redevelopment of Boathouse No.6 is expected to cost £14m with around half the money raised already and bids in to raise the rest. If successful, the new Corps’ museum / refurbished building will open in the summer of 2026.