Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney

Show Map

The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) is a federally-operated maritime museum located in Darling Harbour, Sydney. After consideration of the idea to establish a maritime museum, the Federal government announced that a national maritime museum would be constructed at Darling Harbour, tied into the New South Wales State government's redevelopment of the area for the Australian bicentenary. The museum building was designed by Philip Cox, and although an opening date of 1988 was initially set, construction delays, cost overruns, and disagreements between the State and Federal governments over funding responsibility pushed the opening back to 1991.

One of six museums directly operated by the Federal government, the ANMM is the only one located outside of the Australian Capital Territory. The museum is structured around seven main galleries, focusing on the discovery of Australia, the relationships between the Australian Aborigines and the water, travel to Australia by sea, the ocean as a resource, water-based relaxation and entertainment, the naval defence of the nation, and the relationship between the United States of America and Australia; the last gallery was funded by the United States government, and is the only national museum gallery in the world funded by a foreign nation. Four additional gallery spaces are used for temporary exhibits. Three museum ships - the HM Bark Endeavour Replica, the destroyer , and the submarine - are open to the public, while smaller historical vessels berthed outside can be viewed but not boarded.


Of the six museums operated directly by the Federal government (the ANMM, the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and Questacon), the ANMM is the only one located outside the Australian Capital Territory. Proposals for the creation of such a museum had been under consideration over the preceding years. The roof was shaped to invoke the image of billowing sails: the corrugated metal roof stands over 25 m tall on the west side, but drops significantly on the east. Later in the year, the Department for the Arts informed the museum that it's staff would be reduced by 30% and it would undergo budget cuts, forcing the ANMM to rely on contracted security and conservation staff, along with volunteer guides and attendants. It was resolved that New South Wales was responsible for the additional money, and in October 1990, the museum building was handed over to the Federal government. The ANMM was opened on 30 November 1991.

Operating history

In order to achieve commercial sustainability, the ANMM was directed by the Federal government to institute entry fees: the first Australian national museum to do so. The entry fee for the museum was dropped at the start of, but will be re-added in December 2011.

During the museum's first ten years of operation, 3.3 million visitors attended. The space previously hosted the America's Cup-winning yacht Australia II as the centrepiece of the "Tall Gallery", but the yacht, owned by the Australian Government and not the ANMM, was transferred to the Western Australian Maritime Museum in late 2000.

The role of the Royal Australian Navy (and before that, the Royal Navy's Australian Squadron) in the defence of the nation. Includes the "Wall of Sydney"; models and histories of the four Australian warships named after the city of Sydney.
The gallery looks at the links and commonalities between Australia and the United States of America. A US$5 million endowment to the ANMM was the United States' gift for Australia's bicentenary, making the Australia-USA Gallery the only gallery in a national museum funded by a foreign nation. and is used for temporary photographic exhibitions and as hireable space for functions. The other three galleries (two along the eastern side of the top level, and a third offset from the main body of the museum) are used separately or together to host temporary exhibitions.

Other items on display inside the museum, but not associated with any particular gallery, include Spirit of Australia, the Water Speed Record-holding motorboat, and an anchor from , flagship of the First Fleet.

Museum ships

The ANMM's collection of museum ships focuses on three vessels that are open for public inspection: the HM Bark Endeavour Replica, the destroyer , and the submarine .

During the mid-1980s, it was proposed that a replica of explorer James Cook's ship, HM Bark Endeavour be constructed for the museum. Funding for construction was initially provided by the Bond Corporation, and construction began at the start of 1988. However, in 1990, the company ran into financial difficulties, and construction was unable to continue until a charitable trust was established in 1991 to complete and operate the replica Endeavour. The vessel was completed in 1994, and spent the next ten years sailing around Australia and the world before ownership was transferred to the ANMM in 2005.

The Daring class destroyer HMAS Vampire is the only ship of her class to be preserved, and was the last gun-destroyer to serve in the Royal Australian Navy. The submarine had been purchased in 1994 by a group of Australian businessmen, and was placed on display for the duration of the lease purchase contract, after which the submarine was relocated to California.

  • Bareki, the last timber-built tugboat in service with the NSW Maritime Services Board. The tugboat was built in 1962, and primarily used for dredging and towing work between Port Kembla and Newcastle. The yacht competed in the first Sydney to Hobart race, and was the second Australian yacht to circumnavigate the globe. She was sold off after the war and used as a workboat for the Indonesian timber trade, but was rediscovered by Australian special forces veterans in 1962.

Other facilities

The 1874-built Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse, originally located at Cape Bowling Green, near Townsville, Queensland, was relocated to the ANMM site in 1987.<ref name=rowCBG/>

The Vaughan Evans Library is the research library attached to the ANMM, and is a collecting agency on maritime matters.

The Welcome Wall is a bronze wall located on the northern side of the museum, which lists the names of immigrants who arrived by sea to settle in Australia. Having a name engraved on the wall requires an application to the ANMM, and the paying of a fee. As of the end of 2011, the wall contains 24,000 names.<ref name=Meacham2011/>

A Harding safety lifeboat and davit is fitted on the water's edge.<ref name=SmallVessels/> This lifeboat, of a design commonly used aboard offshore drilling platforms and tanker ships, is used by the Sydney Institute of TAFE for maritime training.<ref name=SmallVessels/>


News and journal articles

External links

  • of the Australian National Maritime Museum