Enquiry and Access guidance

In accordance with its Royal Charter (159KB) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the National Army Museum welcomes enquiries about its work and its Collection. It also seeks to encourage public interest in and research into the history and traditions of the land forces of the British crown. These aims are met in a variety of ways that are intended to reach as many people as possible.

They include:

  • Displays within the Museum in Chelsea
  • Loans of exhibits to other museums and galleries worldwide
  • Exhibitions and other information on the Museum's website
  • Books, leaflets and other publications
  • Taught sessions for educational and other groups and the general visitor both at Chelsea and elsewhere
  • Representation at heritage events
  • Special events for families and other audiences at Chelsea
  • Access by prior appointment to items not on display
  • Provision of photographs and other copies of items in the Collection, subject to copyright law and the Museum's regulations. A charge is usually made for this service
  • A shop stocking books, models and other items appropriate to the Museum's mission and Collection.

These services are largely funded by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Defence, resourced, staffed and, whenever resources permit, provided free of charge to anyone wishing to use them. The relative ease with which information can be provided on the internet, together with the high cost of providing bespoke answers, means that the Museum will continue to increase the information it provides in electronic formats.

1. Making enquiries to the Museum

Enquiries are welcomed through the following channels:

Email: info@nam.ac.uk
Telephone: 020 7730 0717
Website: https://www.nam.ac.uk/contact-us
Post: National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HT

Telephone enquiries to the museum will be forwarded to the relevant individual, or in the case of a collections enquiry, to the Duty Curator. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the curator on duty that day will be able to answer your specific enquiry, and you may be asked to submit a written enquiry via the contact details above.

If you submit an enquiry via social media, such as the National Army Museum’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, your question will probably be met with a request to re-submit your enquiry via one of the above written methods.

2. Freedom of Information requests

All Freedom of Information enquiries must be submitted in writing under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (2000). Examples of Freedom of Information requests include:

  • How many visitors did the museum have in 2014?
  • How many job vacancies were advertised in the last financial year?
  • What records do you hold about your exhibitions?
  • Do you hold any records on the provenance of your collections?

Enquiries relating to research into military history and the Museum’s collections will be treated as collections enquiries.

3. Before you make your enquiry

Please consider the following before making your enquiry:

a) Is this the best institution to answer your enquiry?
  • There are many other institutions in the United Kingdom and around the world that also contain information and can assist with your enquiries. Before contacting the National Army Museum, conduct some basic research into what other institutions might be more appropriate for your enquiry.
  • For instance, the National Army Museum is not a repository for soldier’s service papers. In order to trace the service of soldiers from the First World War or earlier, you must first determine whether or not their war service record survives as some were damaged or destroyed during the Second World War. If it does, it will be kept at the National Archives at Kew.
  • Records for the post-1920 period (including the Second World War) are still held by the Ministry of Defence at the Personnel Centre in Glasgow.
  • Information about soldier’s that died in the world wars can be found at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Information about medal eligibility and veteran’s badges can be found by contacting the Army Medals Office.
  • Often regimental museums also contain useful information to help with your enquiry, so consider contacting the appropriate museum. Information on how to contact regimental museums can be obtained from the Army Museums Ogilby Trust.
b) Can you obtain the answer to your enquiry from elsewhere?

Many enquiries we receive relate to general information that can be obtained from other sources. Before submitting your enquiry, check the following alternative sources of information:

  • The National Army Museum’s website
  • Other reliable websites on the internet, such as other military museums
  • Books in your local library
  • Conducting your own research in the National Army Museum’s Templer Study Centre
  • Your local history or military museum
c) Be clear and specific
  • All enquiries submitted should outline a specific topic that the enquiry is about, be written as concisely as possible in English, and include a single clear question for which you are requesting information. We will endeavour to answer a short number of additional questions if directly related to the topic of the first question or if your enquiry is about items with the museum’s collections.
  • If you wish to make more than one enquiry about different topics, we request you submit separate written enquiries for each different topic.
  • Many of the enquiries we typically receive require us to advise redirecting your enquiry to another institution, or provide suggested sources of information. To save us from suggesting places you have already looked, please include a brief summary of any research you have already conducted.
d) Be prepared
  • In common with many other professionals, our curators are very busy and often work off site, and are not always available to see casual callers without a prior appointment. Arriving unannounced may result in disappointment.
  • Although we will always endeavour to provide a curator for you to speak with if you request one upon visiting the National Army Museum, there is no guarantee they have the specific expertise to answer your enquiry.
  • If you request to speak with a curator on a day the Templer Study Centre is open, you will likely be redirected there. The staff on duty will attempt to provide advice, suggest you conduct your own research or advise you to submit an enquiry in writing.
  • If you wish to view an object held within our stores in Stevenage prior appointment is essential. Please submit an enquiry in writing with reference to the object/s you wish to view. Please note that access does take some time to facilitate and access to restricted objects may be viewed with further caveats.
  • If you wish to request information in person, or seek to have items or images identified, you should book a slot for our quarterly Object Identification workshops that are advertised in the What’s On section of our website.
  • You are welcome to bring militaria including medals, badges, photos, archival material, etc to Object Identification workshops. However, you must not bring edged weapons (swords, bayonets, knives, etc), firearms, ammunition, explosive devices (including decorated shell cases), radioactive objects (including watches or instruments with luminous dials) or hazardous materials (such as chemicals or narcotics) into the museum under any circumstances. If your enquiry relates to any such items, you must submit your enquiry in writing, or bring photographs of the items to the Object Identification workshops.

NB: You may be committing an offence by carrying certain types of firearms, edged weapons radioactive or hazardous materials without appropriate documentation, and you will not be permitted to enter the Museum with any such items under any circumstances.

4. Accessing the Museum’s collections

The National Army Museum encourages everyone to conduct research for themselves, and welcomes new readers into the Templer Study Centre. Staff will be on hand to advise on how to conduct research and the resources available to you.

Viewings are available for objects held in our collections store in Stevenage by appointment only.

Details of our collections are available on the Museum’s website, through our online inventory and collection, together with details on visiting the Templer Study Centre, making appointments, and obtaining a Reader’s Card.

Prior appointment is advised for consulting archive material as restrictions may exist on collections which require conservation, contain personal data, or are closed to external access for other reasons.

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."