Life savers, fundraisers, trailblazers: discover the vital roles that women play in saving lives at sea.

The new photographic exhibition Women of the RNLI at the National Maritime Museum celebrates the work of women in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Featuring striking photography, personal testimony and breathtaking film, the exhibition offers a window into the lives of volunteers across the UK and Ireland.

Since its foundation in 1824, the RNLI has had one mission: to save every life at sea. The organisation is entirely self-funded and relies on the tireless work of volunteers across the UK and Ireland.

2024 marks 200 years of the RNLI. In this anniversary year, Women of the RNLI shines a spotlight on the various roles that women have – and always have had – in this vital charity.

The exhibition explores the experiences of current volunteers as well as the stories of the people who paved their way. From crewmembers and lifeguards to fundraisers, mechanics and station managers, women contribute to every aspect of the RNLI’s work.

At the heart of Women of the RNLI is the photography of Jack Lowe, an artist who for almost a decade has been documenting the crews and views of every RNLI lifeboat station. His evocative images, captured using Victorian glass-plate technology, allow us to see the modern work of the RNLI through an historic lens.

Together with the voices and experiences of RNLI volunteers, Women of the RNLI provides a personal perspective on a lifesaving institution. 

Visit the National Maritime Museum and be inspired by the women of the RNLI.

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Photo: Julianne and Rosalyn, Filey RNLI Lifeboat Station. © Jack Lowe

Black and white photo of two female RNLI volunteers in overalls, standing next to a lifeboat
Zone South East