ANMM, NSW Ports celebrate history and use of shipping containers

Exhibition aims to help people understand the role of freight transport in everyday life

ANMM, NSW Ports celebrate history and use of shipping containers
Containers on display at ANMM, Sydney.


The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in Sydney is holding a free outdoor exhibition to celebrate the "box that changed the world" – the shipping container.

Six colourful containers have been places around the museum, giving visitors an opportunity to explore six different aspects of the exhibition.

"The museum has been telling the story of trade in Australia for many of its 25 years so containerisation is really an extension of that story-telling we’ve been doing for a long time," ANMM director and CEO Kevin Sumption says.

Each of the six containers represents a part of the exhibit including:

Ship – where visitors can learn the history of transporting goods in crates, bales, sacks and barrels loaded by hand, and how the container now allows the world’s 1.5 million seafarers to deliver 10 billion tonnes of trade each year.

Cargo – where visitors can discover the intricate world of trade, customs, and biosecurity, and how perishable goods are transported around the world in the ‘cold’ chain.

Port – where visitors can see the radical transformation of ports and port cities in Australia and around the world. Visitors can also peek behind the scenes at Port Botany.

Ocean – where visitors can explore the challenges mass shipping poses to our oceans, including lost shipping containers, cargo spills and acoustic pollution, and the current focus on sustainable shipping.

Build – where visitors can get familiar with the quirky and innovative ways containers are used beyond shipping, including ‘small homes’, food trucks, art installations and even swimming pools.

Things – where visitors can enter a glass-fronted container demonstrating the origins of everyday objects in our homes. The total number of kilometres travelled by sea by all the products in the container is 887,082 km.

The exhibition is being held in association with NSW Ports.

"The idea for this exhibition started with the thought that there are some really simple things in our everyday lives that completely changed the way we live," ANMM curator Mary-Elizabeth Andrews says.

"We look at everything from ocean health to shipping technology to the seafarers that bring you your everyday goods to the distances travelled by everything in your average home."

The purpose of the exhibition is to make Australians understand how the containers play and integral part in everyday lives.

"…so that you’re on the road and you’re next to a truck carrying a container, you don’t view it as a nuisance, you see it as being integral to your lifestyle," NSW Ports CEO Marika Calfas concludes.

The exhibition is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm. Entry is free.

Watch the video here.

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