James Cameron

Challenging the Deep


Discover science, technology & exploration.

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  • Immersive exhibition

    Immersive exhibition

    Don't miss this major immersive exhibition that traces filmmaker James Cameron’s lifelong pursuit of and achievements in deep ocean science, technology and exploration including his record breaking dives in DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, the submersible vessel he designed, that was built in Sydney.

    Come on a Journey

    See an exhibition come to life

    A National Geographic Explorer

    James Cameron in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. Mark Thiessen/Nat Geo Creative.

    Deep Sea Mystery: School Holidays

    Two kids in a model submersible.

    School Excursions

    A view from within the James Cameron - Challenging the Deep exhibition

    Explore the depths of our ocean


    About James Cameron

    Photo by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. Explorer and filmmaker James Cameron emerges from the hatch of DEEPSEA CHALLENGER during testing of the submersible in Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, Australia

    Travel to Sydney

    An aerial view of the Museum with Darling Harbour and the city in the background

    What’s available in our store

    A selection of merchandise available from The Store


    Experience how James Cameron’s passion for understanding and exploring our oceans has shone a light on the least known place on earth. The exhibition immerses you in an underwater environment using cinema scale projections, artefacts and specimens from his expeditions. 


    Explore the spectacular and mysterious abyss, and discover the shipwrecks of Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck. See artefacts from the design and construction of the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, built to withstand water pressures of nine tonnes per inch. 


    Learn how underwater recording, lighting, communication and diving technologies pioneered by Cameron transfer between filmmaking and exploration. You’ll also see original film props and costumes from The Abyss and Titanic, including the iconic Heart of the Ocean diamond.

    Discover the world of a man driven to explore and meet the challenges of the deep.

    Eventbrite - James Cameron - Challenging the Deep Tickets

    The exhibition has been developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in collaboration with the Avatar Alliance Foundation and is funded by the museum’s USA Bicentennial Gift Fund.

    Exhibition sponsor logos

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    Immerse yourself in the world of James Cameron, where art, science and technology combine. Photo by Andrew Frolows / ANMM. See props and costumes used in movies The Abyss and Titanic – including the iconic Heart of the Ocean diamond. Photo by Andrew Frolows / ANMM. See props and costumes used in movies The Abyss and Titanic – including a gigantic model of Titanic on the ocean floor. Photo by Andrew Frolows / ANMM. See the two watches exposed to water pressures of over 1000 atmospheres: the 1960 Rolex Deep Sea Special and the 2012 Rolex Deepsea Challenge. Photo by Andrew Frolows / ANMM. Squeeze into a replica of the cockpit that James Cameron sat in for seven hours. 11 kilometres, straight down. Photo by Andrew Frolows / ANMM. Discovering the wreck of Titanic in James Cameron’s Ghosts of the AbyssDiscovering the wreck of Titanic in James Cameron’s Ghosts of the AbyssDEEPSEA CHALLENGER. Photo by Mark Thiessen, Nat Geo CreativeJames Cameron surfacing after DEEPSEA CHALLENGER dive. Photo by Mark Thiessen, Nat Geo Creative


    James Cameron is an acclaimed film-maker and explorer.  As director, writer and producer he is responsible for some of the most memorable films of the past three decades: THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, THE ABYSS, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, TRUE LIES, TITANIC, and AVATAR. 

    Cameron has been an avid scuba diver since 1969, logging over 3000 hours underwater. In 1995, Cameron made 12 manned-submersible dives to the Titanic wreck in preparation for his feature film, using new camera and lighting technology designed for that expedition. The expedition fueled his desire to turn to documentary filmmaking, and he formed Earthship Productions to develop films about ocean exploration and conservation.

    His team's survey of the inside of Titanic wreck in 2001 was the subject of Cameron's film, GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS.  Using advanced fiber-optic-spooling ROV’s he co-designed, Cameron flew seven survey missions inside the wreck, bringing to light the surviving vestiges of its past glory.  And using 3D deep-ocean cameras designed by himself and Vince Pace, and using a large lighting vehicle commissioned for the expedition, Cameron recorded unprecedented vistas of the wreck’s exterior.

    In May of 2002, Cameron piloted his robotic cameras inside the wreck of Bismarck, which resulted in the Discovery Channel documentary, JAMES CAMERON'S EXPEDITION: BISMARCK.  Cameron's team then made 3 expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites in the Atlantic, Pacific and Sea of Cortez, comprising over 30 dives, which became the subject of ALIENS OF THE DEEP.  He was joined in his exploration by a team of young scientists to study how life forms discovered there might represent life we may one day find on other planets and moons in our solar system.

    In 2012, Cameron led his eighth deep ocean expedition.  His engineering team had previously spent seven years building a unique manned submersible, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, which he co-designed with Ron Allum. During sea trials in the New Britain Trench off Papua New Guinea Cameron dove solo to 5 miles (8 km) depth, imaging and sampling new organisms in the previously unexplored trench.  On March 26 Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to the earth’s deepest point, piloting the sub 7 miles (11 kilometers) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.  The expedition included biologists and geologists, and the samples and images collected are shedding unprecedented light on the virtually unknown habitats of the New Britain Trench, Challenger Deep and Sirena Deep.  68 new species were discovered, including the world’s deepest bacterial mats living off of serpentinization at 35,500’ depth in the Sirena Deep.

    Director Producer James Cameron Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc Walden
    Director / Producer James Cameron. Copyright Disney Enterprises  
    / Inc Walden Media LLC All rights reserved. 

    James Cameron in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. Mark Thiessen/Nat Geo Creative.  
    James Cameron in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. Mark Thiessen/Nat Geo Creative.

    Cameron is a member of the Deep Submersible Pilots Association, and he is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and recipient of their most prestigious award, the Hubbard Medal, as well as the Explorer’s Club medal for Explorer of the Year.  He is a member of Ocean Elders, as well as the advisory boards of Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Center for Marine Robotics at WHOI.

    As an explorer, Cameron has been equally fascinated by outer as well as inner space. He was a co-investigator, involved in the development of the Mastcam camera, which is currently sending images back from the surface of Mars from its vantage point atop the recently landed Curiosity rover (Mars Science Laboratory).  Cameron served on the NASA Advisory Council for 3 years, is an active member of the Mars Society and the Planetary Society, serves on the Caltech Space Innovation Council, and remains as committed to the exploration of space as he is to the exploration and conservation of the oceans.  He is currently involved in the development of the Europa Lander mission at JPL.

    He is also passionately involved in sustainability issues, having founded the Avatar Alliance Foundation.  He and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, also founded the Plant Power Task Force to promote awareness of the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

    He is currently in production on Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5.

  • National Geographic

    National Geographic

    In 2011 James Cameron was honoured as a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. National Geographic support Cameron’s work by funding and broadcasting documentaries that trace his deep-sea exploration. The National Maritime Museum is delighted that National Geographic is an official media partner of the Challenging the Deep exhibition.

    Below are two videos National Geographic created when James was in Sydney in late May 2018 to officially open the exhibition.


    Pull the plug on the ocean to reveal hidden secrets and lost worlds, using ground-breaking technology, breath-taking photography and insight from top marine archaeologists. Drain The Oceans delivers penetrating new insights into the epic history of human civilisation and the deep history of Earth itself, exposing sunken cities, shipwrecks and the amazing natural wonders of the deep.

    Available on FoxtelFetch and the National Geographic App.



    Inspired by James Cameron? Then take advantage of one of these great travel packages which include flights, accommodation and entry to the Challenging the Deep exhibition.

    Helloworld NZ 

    Travelling from New Zealand – Book your tickets and travel package by contacting Helloworld or call 0800 75 87 87

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    Qantas Holidays 

    Travelling from Interstate – Booking your tickets and travel package with Qantas Holidays or call 1300 443 485

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    Virgin Australia Holidays

    Check out these great interstate travel packages from Virgin Australia Holidays or call 13 15 16

    Virgin Australia Holidays