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About Us

We are the Scottish Maritime Museum, two family friendly attractions telling the story of the nation’s maritime past, present and future. We are home to amazing ships, industrial machinery and nautical inspired artwork.

Discover something new at our museum at Irvine Harbourside. Inside the Linthouse you can see our permanent collection under the spectacular glass roof which gives the building its nickname the ‘Cathedral of Engineering’. Along with a changing temporary exhibition programme, there are children’s trails and there are timed tours to the 1920’s Shipworkers flat and Fitting Shed. Also virtual tours of vessels and the 1800s tenement flat.  We regularly run art activities and talks for kids and adults alike. School groups of all ages are welcome for tours and workshops.

Our Dumbarton museum is none other than the Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank, the world’s first ship model experiment tank! This unique building and its machinery tell the story of the Clyde’s shipbuilding history. The first floor houses touring exhibitions and interactive gadgets and games!

Statement of purpose

To care for, manage, and develop the Museum collection.

To promote intellectual and physical access to the collections through displays, exhibitions and activities at our sites, at other locations, and by other means.

To research the collections and ensure that we develop, retain, and communicate knowledge about our collections.


To be a dynamic, world-class, national maritime museum that informs, educates and inspires.


We collect, preserve, interpret and make accessible Scotland’s maritime past and present in a way that reflects its local, national and international significance.


The Scottish Maritime Museum was founded in 1983 and based in the West of Scotland with sites in Irvine and Dumbarton, the Scottish Maritime Museum holds an important nationally recognised collection, encompassing a variety of historic vessels, artefacts, art, fascinating personal items and the largest collection of shipbuilding tools and machinery in the country. The buildings and sites which the Scottish Maritime Museum occupies are themselves part of the collection.

The Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine is housed within the vast, glass-roofed Victorian Linthouse. This A listed ‘cathedral of engineering’ was formerly the Engine Shop of Alexander Stephen and Sons shipyard in Govan before being salvaged and relocated to Irvine in 1991.

The Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton is located on the former site of the influential and innovative William Denny Shipyard and features the world’s first commercial ship testing facility, the Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank. The Denny Ship Model Experiment Tank opened in 1883, It allowed the engineers to find out how full-sized ships hulls would preform at sea.

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