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Maritime Museums around the World

Human interaction with the sea has affected politics, economics, warfare, technology, trade, and culture since the beginning of our history. There are hundreds of museums scattered across the globe (the majority in Europe, North America, and Australia) that document and display some aspect of this long relationship. These institutions include historic buildings, such as lighthouses, docks, and fishermen’s cottages; museums of naval history; reclaimed vessels arranged for public tours; and many more.

The nonprofit, public museums listed below are all relevant in some way to the issues presented by the Belitung shipwreck concerning underwater archaeology and heritage management in Asia. Included are museums of maritime history in Asia and major maritime museums elsewhere in the world, particularly those that feature or focus on the display of excavated wrecks.

Also listed is a selection of underwater archaeological preserves, protected areas where visitors can dive to see the undisturbed shipwrecks. Underwater archaeological parks like these have only recently been established, mostly within the United States. Some in the archaeological community contend that such sites are the most responsible way to preserve shipwrecks in the public trust. 

Finally, at the bottom are digital museums, which provide access to underwater archaeological heritage for the widest possible audience. They can tackle subjects that would be prohibitively expensive or otherwise impossible to present in a brick-and-mortar museum. The online context also allows a more extensive presentation of new research than is generally possible in a physical institution.

Please note: The programs and organizations listed here are included as a resource for further information. Their presence on this website does not imply their support of the Shipwrecked exhibition.

Maritime Museums in Asia

Maritime Museums Elsewhere

Underwater Archaeological Preserves

Virtual Museums

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.