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Published: June 23, 2023

Brand New Armada Maps National Treasures Exhibition Opens for Limited Time

Come see a brand new exhibition, opening just in time for the Summer Holidays, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Armada Maps National Treasures is an incredibly rare look into the events of the Spanish Armada of 1588, only open to the public for 45 days!

This exclusive exhibition houses ten hand drawn maps dating back to the Elizabethan era. The maps were saved from being sold overseas thanks to the fundraising efforts of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, National Memorial Heritage Fund, Art Fund, and members of the public. A staggering £600,000 was raised to keep the maps in the UK, where they are now on display for the first time.

Visitors will see the story of the Spanish Armada happening step by step. Each map details a new event in the ongoing battle. Also on display is an extremely rare map that shows the Armada from the Catholic perspective. The ongoing story of the Armada and its impact throughout history is unpacked, with in-gallery touchscreens and animations shedding light on a this historic event in English history, who the key players were, and what was at stake.

Following expert guidance from world-leading conservation experts and The National Archives, the maps can only be displayed for 45 days due to their fragile nature and the dangers of exposure to light. Don’t worry if you can’t see the Armada maps in person during this brief though, as there is an accompanying digital version of the exhibition that will remain live even after the physical exhibition has closed.

Armada Maps National Treasures will open to the public on the 24th of June till the 8th of June in the Hear My Story Gallery at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Entrance is included with a valid ticket to the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Displays from the Armada Maps National Treasure exhibition at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy

“Our job is to tell epic story of the Royal Navy, its impact on Britain, as well as the world, from the earliest times to the present day, to that end we’re delighted to display the complete Armada Maps Collection for the first time at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The defeat of the Armada was a turning point in forging our nation’s identity and the maps act as a powerful commemoration of this pivotal naval battle. The Armada Maps National Treasures exhibition is hugely significant; it is an opportunity for us to link Navy to Nation and educate future generations about the origins of the Royal Navy as a protector of an Island Nation.”

Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund

“These exceptional maps plotting the defeat of the Spanish Armada illustrate a defining moment of our national history. I’m thrilled that the maps will finally be going on display to the public after a successful fundraising campaign to save them led by the National Museum of the Royal Navy with support from Art Fund. I’m sure that visitors will be flocking to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard this summer to see these national treasures.”

Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund

“The defeat of the Armada in 1588 had a deep and long-lasting effect on the formation of an English national identity, and these extraordinary maps uniquely capture a pivotal moment in British history from the English viewpoint. It is fantastic that they will now be going on display in Portsmouth for the public to admire and we are very proud that the National Heritage Memorial Fund was able to play a role in saving them for the UK.”