Another rainy day, another museum.

November 6, 2006 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Out and About, Sydney, Travel | Leave a comment
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The Australian Maritime Museum was my stop this week. Located on the harbour and with free entry to the museum it was a nice way to spend an hour or so. However, if you don’t have a strong interest in maritime history (like me) you may be a little bored, although there are some interesting elements. As you walk towards the museum you’ll see several ships moored outside, including a submarine and a tall ship. You do need to pay to board them and if I had more time and the weather was not so terrible I would have considered buying a ticket. OK, so now onto the museum.

Basically, I had assumed that the museum was going to be all about ships, mainly because of the ships that I’d seen outside. For the most part this is true, it’s a museum about ships, and the trade, navy, immigrants, explorers and invaders they have brought to Australia. However they also have several exhibits outlining Australians connection to water in general (ie sport and social life)  as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions.

The final/ first section in the museum is the United States’ gallery which outlined US influences and naval history as it relates to Australia (sort of…). Considering the obvious influence of British history it was nice to see some other contributions, not only from the US but other European countries (it was lacking a substantial history of Asian influences).  The Gallery was a gift from the US for Australia’s bicentennial that began in 1988, dedicated in 1992 and cost $5 million. I tried to find out what Australia gave the US for it’s “birthday” but the powers of the Internet failed me (and my search terms).  

Currently they are also running an exhibit (that costs additional money) on pirates. By the sounds coming through the other side of the wall I gather this is mainly for children. Speaking of the walls the museum is set up somewhat like the interior of a ship with the different floors called decks and the partitions giving the impression of bulkheads. It was kind of cool.

There were a few surprises as I wandered about. Seeing a globe from 1602 was quite novel, as was the whaling exhibit – mainly because I thought that the QLD Museum did a better job -, a lighthouse light and a small section on Admiral Nelson that seemed so out of place in any other locale than an Australian museum.

It was random and funny in a, wow I can’t believe I find this funny way, but in the convict/early transport section it is an area with wood paneling and “hull-like” as I turned the corner I saw a hulking wooden table and at the far end a group of young women sitting and chatting a bit. I had a momentary thought that other than for their clothes (and hygiene) this may have been similar to a scene on a real ship. I know weird!

There are a variety of displays and I have to reiterate that while this museum is not for everyone (myself included) you will likely find something to interest you or ponder. Next time you’re on Darling Harbour and if you have some free time give it a shot, you may be surprised. Of course if you like ships then this is no doubt a must.

Oh and apparently I can’t spell museum. Spell check has to keep reminding me which way the letters go. I blame typing too fast, yeah that’ll do…

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