What does a ‘Curator of Artillery’ do?

Wednesday 23rd November 2022

St John’s Place, Lower Road, Bemerton, SP2 9NP


For those that have visited Fort Nelson in Portsmouth or the Royal Artillery’s former Firepower! museum in Woolwich, you would’ve been fascinated by the evolution of artillery pieces over time and awestruck by the size and intricate designs of some of the historical pieces. Captain William Congreve established an artillery school at Woolwich in 1778 beside the Royal Military Academy and, as the spoils of war often included enemy weaponry, this educational establishment began to take on an additional function as a repository – soon being renamed the ‘Repository of Military Machines’. When the Repository moved to the Rotunda in 1820 its dual role as training institution and museum was consolidated. Today, responsible for an almost 250-year-old collection, what does a ‘Curator of Artillery’ do?

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Philip Magrath’s two decades as a Curator of Artillery have included posts at Britain’s foremost artillery institutions. Whilst with the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth, he was a member of the team that set up Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower at Priddy’s Hard. Now, he holds the curatorial post at the Royal Artillery Museum during a formative period as it seeks a new home on Salisbury Plain.

Philip has a BA(Hons) degree in History from the University of Sussex and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies from University College, London. Additionally, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in English Local History from Portsmouth Polytechnic. He is a Trustee of the Royal Artillery Historical Trust, a member of both the Royal Artillery Historical Society and the Static Display Artillery Equipment Working Group, Larkhill Barracks.