Within the exhibition, was over 600 artefacts, high-tech audio-visual displays and some specially commissioned sculptures and works of art, together with ship models and a number of very fine paintings, combine to tell the story of Nelson's epic life and death.
A dramatic computer-animated version of the Battle of Trafalgar has been produced by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, of Muppet fame, and the uniform worn by Nelson when he died is displayed, with the hole evident in the left shoulder where the bullet passed through the fabric. A giant model of the head of Nelson based on the figure on Nelson's Column is an imposing sight, and other specially commissioned models include one of Napoleon and of Nelson at his writing desk. A real sense of how Nelson lived, thought and fought is be created.
The exhibition is divided into themed sections. The historical scene of the Napoleonic Wars is set with contrasting displays of British and French backdrops and weapons of war. Nelson's marriage to Frances Nisbet follows, with the beautifully embroidered, original Limerick lace overskirts which she wore at her wedding on show.
Relics of Nelson's injuries, sustained to his right eye and right arm, include a tourniquet used to stem the flow of blood during the amputation of his arm on loan from the Wellcome Institute, and a stump muff fragment, made by Sicilian ladies from the beards of oysters.
A variety of shot, including a 68 pounder ball fired by Victory, Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, and a section showing Nelson's battle tactics comes next, followed by displays on some of Nelson's most famous actions:
Cape St Vincent (14 February 1797)
Battle of the Nile (1 August 1798)
Battle of Copenhagen (1 April 1801)
Also featured are Nelson's years in Naples (1798-1800) when his notorious affair with the married Emma Hamilton blossomed to the extent that he disobeyed orders from his Commander-in-Chief to assist the British fleet at Malta and Minorca.
The Battle of Trafalgar is depicted in full computer-animated colour with a voice-over describing the precise tactics which led to the outnumbered British fleet winning the battle against the French and Spanish and securing 100 years of naval supremacy at sea for Britain. At this halfway point, also marked by Turner's largest painting The Battle of Trafalgar interpreted for the first time with spotlights and a voice-over, unusually, the hero of the exhibition is dead. Here, some fascinating artifacts, including the figurehead from Nelson's funeral car, portray a sense of one of the biggest funerals ever seen in the country.
Second-half sections include Nelson's victory rewards, his passionate love affair with Lady Hamilton (including a reconstruction of part of their home together at Merton Place), some of the possessions of Horatia, their daughter, and a vast array of Nelson memorabilia, whose production was made possible by the advent of the industrial revolution. There is also a wide selection of Nelson's own prestigious collection of fine china, porcelain and glassware.
Satirical cartoons produced at the time are complimented by a specially commissioned new caricature by Ralph Steadman, to give a 20th century view. There is also a `Cabinet of Curiosities' containing a number of unusual items such as a replica of the diamond chelengk presented to Nelson by the Sultan of Turkey after his victory at the Nile. The original was stolen from the National Maritime Museum in 1951 and has never been recovered.