The SA Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the SA Maritime Museum.
The Maritime Museum’s collection ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss to eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.
Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world.
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Ship Model Collection
This extensive collection of ship models was acquired by the Museum through the Port Adelaide Institute established in 1876 (later the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum), model maker Herbert Croker, collector Keith Le Leu, Port Adelaide boat builder AJ McFarlane, and private donors. The collection comprises over 180 ship models including builders' half models, sailor-made models, shipping agency models, construction models, working models, exhibition models, and model ships in bottles. The earliest model Micmac dates from 1844 while the most recent models date from the 1980s. A comprehensive survey of the model collection was conducted by Robert Sexton, a retired engineer and model maker, in 1997.