Successive displays chronicle the Greek trireme, perhaps the ultimate statement of rowing power, the Venetian gondola, the Thames wherry , wooden-hulled lifeboats and arctic whaleboats.
On Sunday 2 June, the wherry Albion will carry the original Millennium flame from where it has been carefully kept alight, in Great Yarmouth's St Nicholas Church.
In the 16th century, Acts of Parliament regulated the watermen and wherrymen working on the tidal Thames between Gravesend and Windsor.
Bexfield is said to have been one of the wherrymen who plied the Yare between Norwich and Yarmouth.
A gritty community of fishermen and farmers, Hythe has always had its ferrymen, or wherrymen as they were known for centuries.
Hard times sometimes called for desperate measures, and wherrymen were not averse to a bit of smuggling.
After that, at five-minute intervals, came waves of increasingly speedy fixed-seat rowing craft - home-built plywood skiffs, rugged surf boats, fragile wherries , multi-oared gigs.
Far more satisfying, however, was picking off the slower vessels that had started before us: the lumbering dories, skiffs, and wherries .
Traditional wherries were converted to carry people by enterprising wherrymen and by the turn of the century special pleasure wherries were built as floating holiday homes.