2014 is shaping up to be a year of anniversaries at Royal Museums Greenwich, which will commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act and the 500th anniversary of Trinity House.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was gripped by the race to determine longitude at sea. The Longitude Act of 1714 established the Board of Longitude and offered the Longitude Prize, worth millions in today’s currencies, for anyone who could discover a simple and practical method for precisely determining a ship’s longitude.
© Courtesy Royal Museums Greenwich
From Easter 2014, the Royal Observatory Greenwich will celebrate the ingenious inventors, scientists and explorers of the 18th century with commissioned pieces from eight British steampunk artists. Taking inspiration from the inventions presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828, the works on display in Longitude Punk'd blur the lines between art and science, and fact and fiction. The leading lights of steampunk will feature, including Robert Rankin, Herr Döktor, Emily Ladybird and Major Thaddeus.
Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude, at the National Maritime Museum (July 11 2014 – January 4 2015) will present the inventive instruments and methods that the great scientific minds of the day designed and created. Taking visitors from the coffee houses of London to the tropics of Cook’s Pacific voyages, the exhibition will explore the rivalries, inventions and imaginations that shaped one of the greatest scientific and technical accomplishments in history.
To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, one of the UK’s great textile art practitioners, Rozanne Hawksley, will explore the commemoration and memorialisation of war at Queen’s House from May. Rozanne Hawksley: War and Memory features new works alongside pieces from her acclaimed career, including Seamstress and the Sea and Prisoner.
Also at Queen’s House, War Artists at Sea will showcase the best of Royal Museum Greenwich’s First and Second World War art. Official war art served a variety of different purposes as propaganda, commemoration, documentation and instruction at home and at the front. A rolling programme of displays between February 2014 and February 2015 will include works by Eric Ravilious, Leslie Cole and Charles Wheeler.
The National Maritime Museum will mark the centenary by opening a new gallery exploring the often forgotten naval and maritime aspects to the conflict. Forgotten Fighters: the First World War at Sea will reveal the epic scale and terrible losses of the war on the sea through a range of objects including weaponry, photographs, medals and ship models from the Falkland Islands and the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and North Sea.
Since 1514, the Corporation of Trinity House has been tasked with the instruction to improve the safety of navigation of the Thames. Thanks to their work, countless shipwrecks have been prevented, saving many lives. Guiding Lights: 500 Years of Trinity House and Safety at Sea will display objects and stories from the organisation’s history as well as looking to the future of its work “for the benefit and safety of all mariners”.
The highly popular Astronomy Photographer of the Year will also return in 2014 to celebrate the very best in astrophotography from around the world. The competition will run from January to June, with the winners announced in September. The winning photographs will be displayed at the Royal Observatory until February 2015.
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