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Australian National Maritime Museum to reopen with new exhibitions

Australian National Maritime Museum to reopen with new exhibitions
June 22, 2020

The Australian National Maritime Museum is reopening today with three new exhibitions that investigate Australia’s relationship with the sea and the long history of the people who voyaged upon it.

Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher advised “it was pleasing to see the Australian National Maritime Museum continue to engage with audiences online during the pandemic, but in line with the easing of social distancing restrictions, now is the time for visitors to return to experiencing the Museum’s physical exhibitions in the heart of Darling Harbour from 22nd June.”

Australian National Maritime Museum Chief Executive and Director, Kevin Sumption added “while we have been closed, not only have we been busy creating a range of online experiences, we have been preparing for reopening and are pleased to have three wonderful new exhibitions to offer the public. All three exhibitions are part of the museum’s Encounters 2020 program to mark the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s 1770 voyage and investigate this historic event from the dual perspectives of ‘from the ship’ and ‘from the shore’.

“The largest is Under Southern Skies, a spectacular exhibition which showcases navigation in our region over centuries from the celestial navigation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through the European centuries of exploration up to modern times. Looking at the continent from the four points of the compass we investigate our rich navigational history. From a 13 metre dugout canoe from Papua New Guinea to silver coins from the wreck of the Batavia, it features over 500 objects from the museum’s collection and a number of important new acquisitions to the national collection on display for the first time, including the William Bradley log from the HMS Sirius.”

Also opening is Here: Kupe to Cook, featuring incredible artworks by twenty leading Aotearoa New Zealand and Australian contemporary artists who investigate the long and varied histories of South Pacific voyaging – from Kupe to the arrival of Captain James Cook in that country in 1769.

The third exhibition is Cook and the Pacific, a graphic display from the National Library of Australia that follows James Cook’s three Pacific voyages and explores this through the eyes of the British voyagers and the First Nations peoples they met.

Minister Fletcher added “the Encounters 2020 program provides an opportunity for visitors to reflect on more than 60,000 years of Indigenous custodianship through to more recent navigation and migration stories to help us better understand our shared history.

Sumption continued “the safety of patrons and our staff is at the forefront of our planning and as a result we have made significant changes to the way the museum operates. This has taken a rethink of how we move people through the museum, being mindful of social distancing whilst ensuring that they have a wonderful experience.

“We are urging all visitors to pre-book online to ensure we can accommodate them and prevent unnecessary queuing and are adopting a contactless payment only within the museum to minimize risk. At weekends we will be adopting session times to allow minimal disruption to patrons. We will be monitoring the situation constantly and will continue to adapt our procedures depending on demand.

“We will have sanitisation stations throughout the museum and will increase general cleaning to ensure visitor safety. We will be complying with NSW official health guidelines which includes capturing contact details to enable tracking if required.

“We are no different to most businesses and have taken a hit to our budgets by being closed but, budgets aside, we are most keen to get back to doing what we do best, welcoming the public and telling stories from the sea that have shaped this nation.”

Members of the public are asked to adhere to the Australian Government’s latest COVID-19 health advice when planning a visit, and to not visit the museum if they are sick or recently returned from overseas.

What's open

  • Sea MonstersWildlife Photographer of the Year exhibitions
  • All galleries
  • Action Stations
  • HMAS Vampire (top deck only)
  • HMB Endeavour (top deck only)
  • YOTS Café (take away service and dine-in for 10 people)
  • Museum Store

What's unavailable due to COVID-19

  • HMAS Onslow
  • Below deck on HMAS Vampire and HMB Endeavour 
  • 3D cinema
  • Programs and group bookings
  •  Kids on Deck and play spaces
  • Members Lounge
  • Cloaking service (self-serve lockers are available)
  • Vaughan Evans Library 

For more information visit 

Image courtesy of Australian National Maritime Museum

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18th March 2016 - Consortium plan new $100 million Brisbane Maritime Museum redevelopment

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