The Museum conducts research, preserves the historical monuments of maritime culture, organises exhibitions and participates in museum associations. The venue attempts to gather people, institutions, offices and companies associated with the maritime economy, to encourage them to support the realisation of its objectives.
The beginnings of the National Maritime Museum reach the year 1958, which saw the foundation of the Friends of the Museum Association. On the initiative of the Association and the future Director of the Museum – Przemysław Smolarek D.Sc. – the Artus Manor opened the exhibition entitled “From the oar to nuclear power”.
In 1945, the Ołowianka Island was in ruins, and only the Crane was reconstructed after the damage caused by the war, so it became the home of the Museum’s headquarters. For many years, the Museum pursued successive venues. In June 1963, the first department was opened – the Museum of Lighthouses – in the lighthouse on Rozewie.
The intensive development of the sites affected the opening of more departments: 1972 saw the opening of the Museum of Fishing in Hel, 1977 the building adjoining the Crane, which served as the boiler room after the war, today carrying the name the Colonial Storage, 1984 the Museum of the Vistula River in Tczew and the “Gift of Pomerania” in Gdynia, one of the most beautiful sailing ships in the world.
In 1989 visitors were given access to the exhibition rooms in the granaries “Panna”, “Miedź” and “Oliwski” on Ołowianka Island, which has been home to the headquarters of the National Museum of the Sea since the year 2000, which saw the addition of the “Mała” and “Duża Dąbrowa” granaries. During the summer of 1989, the SS “Sołdek” ship-museum moored at the Ołowianka wharf. This was the first seagoing ship built in the Gdańsk Shipyard after World War II.
Today, besides the headquarters in the Granaries on Ołowianka, the National Maritime Museum is composed of the following departments:
- the Maritime Culture Centre
- the SS “Sołdek” ship-museum
- the Crane
- the “Dar Pomorza” ship-museum
- the Museum of Fishing in Hel
- the Museum of the Vistula River in Tczew
- the Museum of the Vistula Reservoir in Kąty Rybackie