Port Adelaide Nautical Museum collection




This large collection of over 500 items ranges across many material types from ship models, navigation instruments, souvenirs, sea chests, personal belongings, paintings and photographs. Most of these were donated to the Port Adelaide Institute, later the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum, by seafarers who passed through Port Adelaide during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The Port Adelaide Nautical Museum is believed to be the oldest maritime collection in Australia. The collection was begun in 1872 as a general museum collection of the Port Adelaide Institute. It was assembled from donations from members. It included seafarer's souvenirs of voyages to the Pacific, pieces of shipwrecks and famous ships. They ranged from manufactured souvenirs such as a copper plaque made from the copper sheathing on Horatio Nelson's ship Foudroyant, to a piece of the hull of the German raider Emden bearing a bullet hole, to weathered pieces of timber taken from local wrecks. In the 1920s the collection was given a clear focus on maritime heritage and other material such as taxonomic specimens and European paintings were deaccessioned. At one level the collection is significant as a record of a nineteenth century museum and mechanics institute and of the nineteenth century movement for self education. At another level the collection is disparate and includes material that is significant to many themes including naval history, commercial shipping, life at sea, ship technology, shipwrecks, and maritime art and craft. An encompassing theme is the view of the world the collection presents from the place where it was collected.

A South Australian Maritime Museum collection. A representative selection of objects is on permanent display at the South Australian Maritime Museum. Access to other collection items held in Museum Stores is by appointment only.


Anchors (Ships); Artefacts; Education; Maritime history; Model ships; Navigation; Navigation equipment; Painting; Photography

Chests (boxes); Education; Model ships; Navigational instruments; Paintings; Personal effects; Photography; Souvenirs

Ephemera; Models; Nautical equipment; Navigational equipment; Paintings; Photographs; Scrimshaw

Nautical instruments; Painting; Sailmakers crafts; Seachest; Souvenirs

Port Adelaide Institute; Port Adelaide Nautical Museum; South Australian Maritime Museum

Coverage Spatial

South Australia; Port Adelaide, South Australia

Coverage Temporal



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2011-03-23 15:25