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.

Mrs Cook's Valentine's Day

14 Feb 2013

On Valentine’s Day in 1779 Captain James Cook was killed in the Hawaiian Islands. Ironically perhaps, his death was the beginning of a long love affair with Cook by generations of people in the Western world who revered the great navigator. It was also the beginning of 56 long years for his wife Elizabeth Cook, without the love of her life.

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The Prince of Pickpockets who stole our imagination with a swagger

16 Nov 2012

Everyone loves a good convict story, and George Barrington’s chequered life of misdeeds, ‘dissipation and licentiousness’ fails to disappoint. A real life ‘Artful Dodger’, Barrington remains one of the most notorious convicts in history. He also played a role in one of the greatest literary frauds, a myth that perpetuates to this day.

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Shaping the unknown land to the South

07 Aug 2012

Maps are fantastic storytellers. At first glance they provide a collection of scientific data, information to be read like a coded book, a tool for guidance. However as they evolve into historical items and beyond their practical use, maps offer additional and unique dimensions to historical narratives.

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Object of the Week : The convict artist Richard Browne

23 May 2012

In the late 1980s the Australian National Maritime Museum found itself in the process of acquiring two unusual paintings. The works dated to the 1820s and depicted Aborigines fishing: one portraying a couple in a canoe and the other a man presenting a catch of fish to his wife

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Object of the Week

09 Dec 2011

From 1788 to the late 1890s, every single immigrant to Australia – convict, assisted or free – shared a common experience they would never forget: a passage under sail in a crowded ship lasting anywhere from 60 to 200 days.

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Object of the Week

27 Oct 2011

Captain James Cook became a celebrated figure after his death in 1779, and was commonly depicted in books, on plaques and posters.

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Object of the Week

28 Sep 2011

Sometime between 1839-1845 Frances (Fanny) Bligh, daughter of the renowned William Bligh, wrote this in a letter to a landholder in the colony of New South Wales named George Suttor. The ring Fanny was referring to was this intaglio bloodstone antique ring (00044369) which formerly belonged to her father.

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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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