Who we are and What we do

Roles and responsibilities


The Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum was established in 1964, opening on the London (Hendon) site in 1972 as a legacy of the RAF’s fiftieth anniversary. As we approach the RAF Centenary in 2018 our vision and mission will link us more closely with the RAF story and its people. These will be delivered through an ambitious Centenary Programme that will transform the Hendon site and a Centenary Legacy Programme that will complete this transformation through developments at Cosford that are due to complete in 2022.

Charitable Objects

The Royal Air Force Museum is a charity registered with the Charity Commission (No: 244708). The governing document of the body is a Trust Deed dated 4 June 2007; the Museum’s Trustees are incorporated as a body.

The object of the charity is to educate and inform the public and members of the Royal Air Force about:

  • The history and traditions of the Royal Air Force and
  • The role of the Royal Air Force in relation to the armed forces of the realm, other air forces and aviation generally

in particular, but not exclusively, by collecting, conserving, preserving, managing, exhibiting and storing documents, items, artefacts and other materials in its collections.

Our Vision

The ambition of the Museum is to ensure that the RAF’s story endures and enriches future generations.

The vision of the museum is to be a world-leading museum that engages, inspires and connects everyone with the RAF story through exploration of its people and its collections.

Our Purpose

The RAF has shaped our nation and our society. It has influenced how we live our lives today through its impact on world events, society and technology.

The purpose of the Museum is to tell the story of the RAF through its people and collections.

  • For our nation, we help people to understand the impact of the RAF on the world.
  • For visitors, we make our collections and the RAF story relevant and stimulating
  • For current and former RAF personnel and their families, we preserve, honour and share the stories of their service.


The trustees are responsible for the management of the Trust and the stewardship and care of the collections. They have established a number of sub-committees for specific purposes and for the efficient method of conducting business. These sub-committees are:

  • Audit and Risk
  • Finance
  • RAF Centenary
  • Staffing and Remuneration

The Chief Executive Officer, as Accounting Officer, is responsible to the Trustees for the effective management of the Museum via the Senior Management Team.

Organisational structure


Senior Management Team

Chief Executive Officer: Maggie Appleton MBE

As Chief Executive, Maggie’s role is to lead the museum, being accountable for its transformation over the next decade in order to mark the centenary of the RAF and provide a fitting legacy. 

Maggie has twenty-five years’ experience in the heritage sector. After beginning her heritage career at the Royal Armouries (when it was based in the Tower of London) she developed her museum knowledge and experience at Stevenage (1991-2003) and then and in Luton (2003-2008), following which she was Chief Executive of Luton Culture, the Charity that led museums, libraries, arts and community centres across the town.

She has led significant heritage initiatives and developments, notably the £6.2million development of Stockwood Discovery Centre which opened in July 2008, and securing the medieval Wenlok Jug for Luton and the nation after its export was stopped in 2006.

Maggie is a committee member for the Heritage Lottery Fund, Vice President of the Museums Association and co-Chair of the Women Leaders in Museums Network.

Director of Public Programmes: Karen Whitting

Karen has responsibility for leading the Public Programmes and Collections teams, working alongside the other senior managers and Trustees to develop and deliver the Museum’s strategic direction and plans with a focus on telling the story of the RAF for all audiences.

Karen’s career has spanned both the Arts and Heritage sector and she brings with her a wealth of creative and corporate experiences and skills. She was previously Head of Creative Programmes at the Royal Armouries where she was responsible for the creative content, development and delivery of capital programmes across all their sites. She was project manager for the £4 million HLF funded public engagement programme at Fort Nelson as well as the £1.5 million White Tower development.

Karen has also worked extensively on live events and interpretation with previous roles at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Millennium Dome and Glyndebourne Opera House.

The Museum has two sites that are open to the public, at Hendon in North London and Cosford in Shropshire These sites are open daily from 10 am, apart from 24 to 26 December, 1 January. Further details are given on our website.

The Museum also has a Reserve Collection store at Stafford; it is not normally open to the public, but visits can be made by arrangement.

Contact details

Media contacts are given in the media vault.

For general enquiries, contact details can be found via this link.

Requests for information about the museum and its work can be made via foi@rafmuseum.org or by letter to:

Freedom of Information
Royal Air Force Museum London
Grahame Park Way

Historical research enquiries can be made to the London site:

Online the research section of the website

By email to research@rafmuseum.org 

By phone to 020 8358 4873.

Subsidiary Bodies

Royal Air Force Museum Enterprises Limited (Company No. 1511481) is the trading subsidiary of the Museum and its principal business is the conduct of trading operations in London and at Cosford in relation to retail sales, conference and corporate hire and alternative marketing. The accounts of the trading company are consolidated within the Annual Financial Statements and are published here

Royal Air Force Museum Investments Ltd (Company No. 4026995) holds the legal title of the property interests of the Royal Air Force Museum. The company does not trade.

Details of both companies are submitted to Companies House

The Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation http://www.rafmaf.com/home.html engages in fundraising to support key projects that assist the RAF Museum.

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