The box that changed the world

Container: The Box that changed the world

Lift the lid on the humble shipping container.



    In today’s global world you may have drunk coffee from Brazil or a smoothie containing frozen fruit from China. You could be wearing clothes made in India, watching a TV made in Japan while sitting on a sofa containing wood from Argentina on a laminate floor manufactured in Sweden.

    All of this has been made possible by a rectangular steel box - the humble shipping container.

    You can literally ‘step inside the box’ to enjoy our first-ever outdoor exhibition as you explore six colourful containers scattered around the museum like giant Lego pieces. Each container covers one part of our six part exhibition.

    Containers in situ outside Wharf 7  


    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.


    Discover the intricate world of trade, customs, and biosecurity, and how perishable goods are transported around the world in the ‘cold’ chain.


    See the radical transformation of ports and port cities in Australia and around the world. Have a peek behind the scenes at Port Botany, one of Australia’s busiest ports and the gateway for 99 per cent of New South Wales’ container demand.

    Containers in situ outside Wharf 7 with the museum building in the background


    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.


    Be delighted by the quirky and innovative ways containers are used beyond shipping, including ‘small homes’, food trucks, art installations and even swimming pools.


    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 this container is 887,082 km.


    Open daily, 9.30am–5pm, from 26 October 2017.

    Entry is FREE, included in the Free Galleries Ticket.

    See our Admissions page for full price information and to book your tickets. Our Plan Your Visit page has everything you need to know about a trip to the museum.

    Become a Maritime Museum Member and receive free or discounted entry to all our events and exhibitions, as well as many other benefits.

    Supported by the USA Bicentennial Gift Fund.

        Major Sponsor

    NSW Ports Port Botany Port Kembla logo




    ACFS Port Logistucs DP World Australia logo Maritime Container Services logo Smit Lamnalco logo



    Shipping Australia Limited logo NSW Government Transport for NSW logo


                       Containers supplied by

                       Precinct Partner

      Royal Wolf     Darling Harbour logo Property NSW
    Architect’s rendering of the proposed Hechingen Studio, James Whitaker, 2010. Reproduced courtesy Whitaker Studio LimitedDP World Australia container terminal, Port Botany, photo Glenn Duffus, 2015. Reproduced courtesy DP World AustraliaView from the bridge of a container ship in the North Atlantic, photo Adrian Catalin, 2014. Reproduced courtesy Adrian Catalin.Peter Le Scelle, courtesy DP WorldDP World, Port Botany, by Andrew FrolowsTravis Hayto, courtesy DP World AustraliaJosh Kelly, by Jack Harlem Photography, courtesy DP World AustraliaPositioning wool bales in the cargo hold of the Magdalene Vinnen, Samuel J Hood Studio, 1933, ANMM Collection 00035586.DP World, Port Botany, by Andrew Frolows
  • Enter The Instagram Competition

    Enter The Instagram Competition

    Instagram Competition Terms & Conditions

    We’re excited to announce a photography competition in association with Container — The Box That Changed the World. Submit your photographs via Instagram to win a GoPro HERO5 Black.


    The overall winner will win a GoPro HERO5 Black, RRP $569.95.

    How to enter

    1. Read the Terms and Conditions of the competition (below).
    2. Upload a photograph to your Instagram account that has been inspired by a shipping container and hashtag #ContainerExhibition.
    3. Ensure your privacy settings are set to ‘public’ in order for us to assess your entry.

    The fine print

    The competition runs from 1:00 am on 8/10/2017 until 11:59 PM on 8/11/2017.

    Entries will be judged based on creative merit, and a winner will be chosen by Andrew Frolows, a photographer and employee of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

    The winner will be announced as soon as possible after the winner has been selected and confirmed.

    Container Photo by Sarah Keayes Container The Box That Changed the World Outdoor Exhibition Australian National Maritime Museum

    Photo by Sarah Keayes

    Terms and conditions

    Game of skill

    1. Information on how to enter and details of the prize form part of the Terms and Conditions. Entry into this competition is deemed acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.  
    2. To the extent of any inconsistency between these Terms and Conditions and any other reference to this competition, these Terms and Conditions will prevail.
    3. The competition is a game of skill, and chance plays no part in the selection of the winner.
    4. Submissions will be judged according to the following criteria:
      4.1  The relevance of the submitted photo to the themes in question, as decided by our judge.
      4.2  Artistic interpretation of the theme, as decided by our judges.
      4.3  Originality of the submission.
      4.4  Entries that are deemed not to not belong to or not to be taken by the user will not be eligible.
    5. Images must be uploaded to Instagram during the course of the competition, entries that have been uploaded outside these dates will not be accepted.
    6. Only entries submitted via the Instagram application and which are appropriately hashtagged will be accepted.
    7. Images must be the entrant’s own copyright.
    8. Entry is free. Maximum of two entries per person.
    9. Participation in this competition assumes the acceptance of the Instagram terms and conditions, found at http://instagram.com/legal/terms/
    10. Due to Instagram’s rules of use, people under 13 years of age are not permitted to enter the competition.
    11. Employees, and their immediate families, of the Australian National Maritime Museum, its contractors and sponsors are not eligible to enter this competition. ‘Immediate family’ means any of the following: spouse, ex-spouse, de-facto spouse, child or step child (whether natural or by adoption), parent, step parent, grandparent, step grandparent, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, brother, sister, step brother, step sister or first cousin.
    12. In consideration for the Australian National Maritime Museum awarding the prize to the winner, the winner gives the Australian National Maritime Museum non-exclusive rights to use their submitted image and Instagram name in promotional formats such as announcing the winners via the Australian National Maritime Museum website, Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram application and in subsequent competition promotions (with attribution). The winner will not be entitled to any fee for such use.
    13. The judges reserve the right to disqualify any image that they deem unsuitable or inappropriate.
    14. In the case of portraits of people, the entrant must have the written permission of the subject(s) to enter the photograph in the competition.
    15. Prize winners will be the best valid entries as judged by the judge appointed by the Australian National Maritime Museum, having regard to skill, creativity and originality. The Australian National Maritime Museum may select additional entries to be used as replacements in the event that the first entrant chosen as a winner cannot satisfy these Terms and Conditions, take the prize or does not respond within three months of being contacted by the Australian National Maritime Museum.
    16. The judges’ decision in relation to any aspect of the competition is final and binding on each person who enters. Chance plays no part in determining any winner. No correspondence will be entered into. No responsibility is accepted for late, lost or misdirected entries. The prize is not transferable or exchangeable.

add a comment