The visit inside the Museum takes place starting from the 15th-century port of Genoa up to the contemporary age, following four eras of the maritime history: the oar age, when the galleys were built in the old arsenal, the sail age, dominated by the birth of fast ships , the clippers , the age of steam, which the evolution from sail to steamship and the age of the great Italian migrations across the oceans , which nowadays has turned into the dramatic wave of immigrants from poorer countries to Europe .
The museum is articulated in twenty-eight halls, on four levels and dedicated to the permanent exhibition. There are also two halls allocated to temporary exhibitions. The reconstruction of a 17th-century, 42-metre long Genoese galley – where people can get aboard and interact with a virtual crew - a 19th-century brigantine schooner, and over 4.300 original objects, lead the visitor to the discovery of the relationship between Man and the sea. The visitor’s experience continues with the epic of the Italian emigrants bound for America , Brazil and Argentina, with an impressive set up of the present foreign immigration to Italy, a phenomenon that in the last twenty years has made Italy from a point of departure into a point of destination.
The exhibition is completed by the Sala degli Armatori (Shipowners Hall), where visitors can learn the evolution of the shipping world since 1861; the hall dedicated to Cristoforo Colombo, with the famous portrait of the great sailor by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio ; the evolution of the Port of Genoa; the prestigious Sala Atlanti e Globi (Atlases and Globes Hall) that allows to glance virtually through the maps of the most famous cartographers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, masterpieces that are symbol of discoveries and cosmopolitanism, that are geolocalized to our days; the Galleria Beppe Croce, that reproduces the interior of an English Yatch Club of the end of the nineteenth century, with more than 100 marine paintings; the raft of Ambrogio Fogar, on which the sailor and the journalist Mauro Mancini spent 74 days in the Atlantic ocean after the shipwreck of the Surprise (1978); the Sala della Tempesta (Shipowners Hall) in 4D, where visitors can relive a shipwreck in Cape Horn , sitting on a lifeboat facing the waves of a storming sea. On the top floor the exhibition “Andrea Doria, the most beautiful ship in the world, the CoeClerici Hall with the collection of portraits “ Port§Ship’s Portraitist “ from Paolo Clerici Foundation – new exibit 2018 - and the panoramic terrace Mirador are recommended. From there it is possible to enjoy the enchanting view of the port and of the historic part of Genoa. The visitor can extend the maritime experience also under the sea with the exclusive visit of the submarine S518 Nazario Sauro.