Celebrating the vital role that women have played in saving lives at sea, highlighting the work and success of women in a variety of roles throughout

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Image Credit: Moira and Síle (mother and daughter), Ballycotton RNLI lifeboat volunteers, 14th September 2017, Jack Lowe, © Jack Lowe Photo: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

On 2nd March 2024, Women of the RNLI will open at the National Maritime Museum, London to mark the bicentenary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The exhibition will celebrate the vital role that women have played in saving lives at sea, highlighting the work and success of women in a variety of roles throughout the RNLI’s 200-year history.

The RNLI was founded in 1824 by Sir William Hillary with the mission to preserve life at sea. The charity is funded by the generosity of supporters and relies on the tireless work of thousands of volunteers across the UK and Ireland. This exhibition will highlight and celebrate the lives and experiences of current women volunteers, as well as those that have paved the way in areas such as fundraising, campaigning, technological innovation, training and as volunteer lifeboat and shore crew.

Women of the RNLI will feature a series of 42 photographs by Jack Lowe recently acquired by Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG). The portraits of women that volunteer for the RNLI will be displayed alongside their lifeboat station’s corresponding slipway, putting the landscape that these women operate in at the heart of their stories.  The images form part of Lowe’s ongoing Lifeboat Station Project, an attempt to photograph all 238 operational RNLI lifeboat stations and crew members at each. Lowe uses a 12x10 inch (30x25cm) Thornton-Pickard field camera from about 1905.The photographs are then developed using a process called wet collodion, a technique invented in the mid-nineteenth century. This creates beautifully atmospheric and evocative photographs with a sense of timelessness. Lowe’s project began in 2015 and he has now photographed over 150 stations across the UK and Ireland. Once finished it will be the first complete photographic record of every single RNLI lifeboat crew.

Alongside the portraits, the exhibition will include recorded oral histories from some of the sitters featured who share their experiences of life with the RNLI. Six histories have been collected during the creation of the exhibition which will also be available via the Royal Museums Greenwich website.

* Suitable for all ages.

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      Women of the RNLI Exhibition

      Type:Exhibition

      National Maritime Museum, Special Exhibitions Gallery, Romney Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF

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      Opening Times

      Women of the RNLI Exhibition (2 Mar 2024 - 1 Dec 2024)
      DayTimes
      Monday - Sunday10:00 - 17:00

      * FREE Admission

      Awards

      • Other AwardsVisit Greenwich Partner Visit Greenwich Partner 2021

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