National Maritime Museum, London SE10, 10am-5pm to Oct 2005Reuse content
He had one eye, one arm and an affair with Lady Hamilton, but few of us know much more than that about Britain's greatest naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson. That, however, is all about to change. Today, the 190th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, marks the start of the Nelson Decade, and to launch the naval-gazing celebrations the National Maritime Museum has organised the largest exhibition ever to be devoted to the admiral. If you don't like military history, don't worry. For much of the most interesting material reveals the passionate and complex private figure behind the public persona. Nelson's home is recreated and his time in Naples explored. More than 500 contemporary artefacts help tell an extraordinary life story. The musket ball that killed Nelson at Trafalgar - now owned by the Queen - is reunited with the bloodied uniform in which he died, while the more bizarre objects featured include his pigtail, a tourniquet used during the amputation of his arm and a "stump muff fragment", made by Sicilian women from the beards of oysters, which was used to cover the end of his severed limb. Sea shanties and pyrotechnics accompany this morning's opening, and anyone who dresses as Nelson or Emma today will be allowed in free. Don't be shy now: it's only a bit of armless fun.