Discover stories behind the latest exhibitions, fascinating explorations into maritime science and archaeology, and the surprising details of what happens inside (and outside) a modern working museum.

RelationShips: Pincushions, sweetheart brooches and love tokens

31 Aug 2011

Living in a world where loved ones are little more than just a phone call or email away, it’s hard to imagine the anguish of separation felt by those whose loved ones were oceans apart, with little or no contact. An evocative pincushion in the Australian National Maritime Museum’s collection (00006919) highlights the disconnection felt by many naval and merchant sailors in the 19th and 20th centuries from their loved ones. 

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What’s in a ship painting?

25 May 2010

Ship portraits can be rather tedious to some. They usually only convey something of interest to those who know particular details about the ship’s construction.

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John Louis

To sheath or not to sheath?

04 Mar 2010

In 1987 the Australian National Maritime Museum acquired a pearling lugger from Broome. The John Louis was built in 1957 and operated for 30 years in the pearling industry in north-western Australia. 

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A musket barrel made of copper?

08 Feb 2010

The Museum has several items from the 1629 wreck of the Batavia on display in the Navigators gallery. One is labelled as a musket barrel. However it is made of thin copper sheeting. Either the Dutch were very brave souls to fire such a thing, or there is more to this ‘musket barrel’ than meets the eye! 

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Admiral Pâris’ amazing encyclopedia

07 Jan 2010

It may seem unlikely that a naval officer who fought in the Crimean War and who led the introduction of steam engines and ironclad warships into the French Navy would possess a delicate painterly hand. It also seems unlikely such a man would favour rustic scenes of Malyasian dock workers or Indian fishing boats and their crews. 

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Oceania, or the fifth part of the world

21 Dec 2009

Ever wondered where the geographical term Oceania came from? In the eighteenth century, European explorers were busily charting all the island groups and working out exactly what continents there were – or weren’t – in the Pacific Ocean.

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A model tale

21 Dec 2009

One of the museum’s volunteer model makers recently donated to the museum a scale model of an early colonial Australian ship that saw many adventures in its comparatively short but very well traveled life. HMS Mermaid was a single masted, copper-sheathed, iron-fastened cutter of 84 tons.

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A khaki Navy jacket?

16 Dec 2009

In the coming weeks there will be a new addition to the Navy Gallery – an officers jacket from the Vietnam War period. But this jacket is somewhat unusual. It is not the familiar Naval white or blue, but khaki coloured.

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Navigating without instruments

04 Dec 2009

Many objects have fascinating stories and interesting people associated with them that we often don’t get a chance to talk about in detail. None more so than a group of five model canoes and outriggers from various Pacific Islands that I have recently been researching for the museum’s collection.

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