The museum exists to promote an understanding of small boats and their place in people's lives as well as to champion the maritime heritage of Cornwall.
Among paintings and photographs, telescopes, logbooks, whale-tooth carvings and lifebelts, you'll find Old Stan's salmon fishing boat and Ellen MacArthur's Christmas tree. Go underwater in the Tidal Zone; try steering a boat in the Nav Station; and enjoy breathtaking views of the harbour, docks and estuary from the Look Out.
The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. It is now housed in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other craft. The collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world.
Much of the Cornish Maritime Collection comes from the former Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth and contains objects, pictures, models and archives relating to the history of Cornwall and the sea, and Falmouth in particular. Material relating to the Falmouth Packet Ships is of particular interest and includes six watercolours by Maltese artist Cammillieri.
The museum is also home to the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Diploma Collection, consisting of around 100 works of art.