The Museum maintains an active research programme in support of its mission centred on its collections, its archives and the Bartlett Library.
Current regional research themes and projects include:
- The Falmouth Packet Ships, their captains and crews. (See the wonderful extract Miseries of Life at Sea on Board a Packet Ship)
- The archives of Fox's, an important ships' agent in Falmouth
- Falmouth Quay Punts
- Cornish Pilot Gigs and Cutters
- Cornish built ships
- Cornish fishing boats over 10m
- Falmouth tugs
- Falmouth river boats
- References to Cornwall in Lloyd's List 1740 - 1826
- An index of the Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle 1831 - 1980 (some dates missing).
Wider research themes include:
- A nationwide review of all small craft in collections to identify gaps and opportunities. This project, the National Small Boat Register, is designed to define the heritage value of different classes and types of boats across the country to aid decision-making on preservation and conservation
- The Bethell Watercraft index - a database of terms and associated bibliography
- The Bartlett picture index - an index of illustrations from books in the collection
- Ship pictures - the development of an index of pictures
- Classic yacht designs and designers with a searchable Yacht Design Database
- Building up the body of knowledge on the specific boats in the collection, their classes and their place in the history of small craft.
The resulting research tools are used to answer queries from members of the public and as a resource for other researchers. Wherever possible, research projects result in publications.