News | March 22, 2024

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The National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) is turning 50 this year. Located at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard and commanding Bermuda’s westernmost point, NMB is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation created by the Bermuda National Trust in 1974 as the Bermuda Maritime Museum. The Museum has since expanded beyond its original mandate, which focused on maritime history and the restoration of Bermuda’s largest fort, The Keep, where the Museum is housed.

Bermuda Maritime Museum established by a committee of Bermuda National Trust

Over the past five decades, a small, dedicated team of museum and heritage experts—along with Board members and individual and corporate volunteers— has transformed once-derelict ramparts, bastions, and historic buildings into a first-class Museum. NMB has also built Bermuda’s largest collection of historic objects (80,000+ objects relating to 500 years of Bermuda history), partnered with overseas and local institutions to carry out archaeological and historical research, and re-imagined historic military buildings as exhibition, education and community spaces, research labs, and event venues. With the support of the Government of Bermuda, the Museum acquired the Casemates complex in 2013, officially becoming the National Museum of Bermud and growing from a 10- to a 16-acre property.

Reflecting on the Museum’s past and future, NMB Executive Director Elena Strong shared:

“For 50 years, NMB has stepped in to save and secure Bermuda’s past and heritage. Now, the Museum is home to Bermuda’s cultural past and our collective future, remaining strong thanks to a 50-year history of committed partners, generous donors and determined resolve. Thanks to a recent Campaign, we are entering a new era, building on strong foundations to shift how history is shared and taught in Bermuda. Upcoming plans include a designated Learning Centre with dynamic, flexible spaces to welcome learners of all ages. Critically needed exhibit updates will ensure everyone can find their story at NMB, and that Bermuda history is framed in an Atlantic World lens. This helps broaden our understanding of each other and the larger context of Bermuda’s interconnected histories, cultures, and influences that shaped the Atlantic region. Our expanding and new programming provide opportunities for students, teachers and lifelong learners to explore Bermuda’s diverse past in ways that build critical and creative thinking skills. Major historic preservation projects include transforming the Casemates site into a hub for Atlantic World research and updating our Boat Loft with two new exhibits, putting hundreds more objects on display. We continue to stay true to our mission: protecting, interpreting and sharing Bermuda’s history and heritage through our collections, exhibits, publications and programmes, and growing as a vital educational and cultural institution for everyone in Bermuda. The future is bright for NMB—we look forward to the next 50 years!”

To celebrate, the Museum will be rolling out events, activities and special offers all year. 2024 also marks the 11th year of NMB’s “Free for February” initiative which offers free admission to the Museum for all Bermuda residents for the month of February. The 2nd annual free Community Day took place on Sunday, February 25.

NMB is also offering a special 50th anniversary discount for new members who join in 2024: family memberships, normally priced at $75/year, will be discounted to $50/year to inspire new members to join NMB and dive deeper into Bermuda history and culture. Take advantage of this offer by visiting

NMB Advancement Director Katie Bennett shared: “We are so grateful to everyone who has joined us along this journey, and to newer friends, all who are helping us usher in a new era at NMB. Thank you to our community of volunteers, interns, students, staff, trustees, members and donors. Your support is helping us continue to grow as a vital educational resource and steadfast community partner as we elevate Atlantic World research and thought leadership. We look forward to celebrating this milestone with you this year!”

Museum milestones throughout the years include, but aren’t limited to:

1970s: the Museum opened to the public, starting with the first exhibits in the 1850 Ordnance Building (now the Queen’s Exhibition Hall) followed by the 1852 Ordnance House, the Boat Loft and the 1837 Shifting House, as repair, refurbishment and restoration was completed.

Queen Elizabeth II opens the Queen’s Exhibition Hall in 1975 (in the 1850 Ordnance House), which was staged with temporary exhibits.

1980s: the Museum hired its first professional staff and began carrying out archaeological work locally and establishing relationships with overseas academics and field schools. The Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, (now the National Museum of Bermuda Press) was established, since publishing over 40 texts on Bermuda history and heritage.

The Museum’s board of Trustees hires its first professional staff in the 1980s: Dr. Edward C. Harris, Founding Executive Director

1990s: the Corange Laboratory officially opened with the purpose of artifact conservation. Tens of thousands of artifacts have been conserved and preserved, including shipwreck artifacts: an unparalleled source of information concerning the Atlantic World and its history. The Museum also launched its student internship programme which continues today.

Artifact conservation in the Museum’s Corange Laboratory: Tens of thousands of artifacts have been conserved and preserved for future generations and many can be seen on display in Museum exhibits.

2000s: Commissioner’s House opens after nearly 20 years of restoration and was designated part of the (now-named) UNESCO “Routes of Enslaved People: Resistance, Liberty and Heritage” Project and the African Diaspora Heritage Trail with the opening of the first large-scale exhibit on enslavement in Bermuda and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The House is further populated with cultural exhibits relating to Bermuda’s connections with the Azores and the West Indies, Bermuda’s Defense Heritage, the History of Tourism and the Bermuda Race, and The Hall of History by Graham Foster: a stunning 1,000 square foot mural that illustrates 500 years of Bermuda’s history. In this decade, volunteer work begins to save the Casemates buildings. And, the Historic Wrecks Act—which ensures that Bermuda’s shipwrecks and artifacts are protected and preserved for future generations – is passed with the support of the Museum.

Museum interns in 1999: the Museum’s student intern programme (ongoing) offers hands-on work experience and training in all aspects of museum work and builds capacity in Bermuda’s cultural heritage sector.

2023 NMB intern cohort

2010s: The Bermuda Maritime Museum Association Amendment Act was passed in the House of Parliament, officially changing the Museum’s name to the National Museum of Bermuda. The Act also brought the remaining Dockyard fortifications under the Museum umbrella, including Casemates Barracks and the Northwest Rampart. Free for February began in 2012, offering free admission for all Bermuda residents each February, and the Museum Playground and Playhouse open, providing original, fun and unexpected ways to explore Bermuda history. The Museum publishes its first 10-year Strategic Plan and Education Strategy which are the guiding documents for all the work it carries out.

Work begins to save the Casemates buildings; corporate volunteers have made great strides to date

Fun and adventure reign supreme at the Museum with the whimsical Museum Playhouse and Children’s Playground.

2020s: NMB is focused on putting community at the centre of the museum and shifting to participatory-based learning experiences for students, teachers and lifelong learners. Projects include crowd-sourced documentation and exhibit initiatives, free public lectures, the award-winning Tracing Our Roots/Routes programme, an island-wide youth photography competition, teacher professional development workshops and resources, new school programmes, museum ambassador training, and digital technology to enhance exhibits. Contemporary art by local artists including Bill Ming, Gherdai Hassell, Meredith Andrews and Jayde Gibbons provides new entry points to engage with Bermuda history and heritage.

The annual Dr. Reg Grundy Youth Photography Competition gives local students an opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation for Bermuda’s natural and cultural environment.

NMB’s Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programme provides training for local educators in methods to teach Bermuda history in ways that promote critical and creative thinking.

NMB’s Adult Ambassador programme moves beyond traditional docent tours. The programme reflects NMB’s commitment to participatory learning and engagement with learners of all ages to bring Bermuda history and NMB to life!

Free for February expanded in 2023 with NMB’s first free Community Day for residents and visitors alike.

Learn more, see the Museum’s 50-year timeline with historic photos and join the celebration at

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Join our team of volunteers. Digital and in-person volunteer opportunities are available