QMM’s Vision
To connect people with the maritime heritage of Queensland and the world.

We will achieve our vision by

  • Providing an enjoyable and memorable destination
  • Offering dynamic interactive displays that both educate and entertain
  • Sharing stories of our maritime culture and heritage
  • Enriching our unique and significant collection
  • Connecting with our community

Collection Themes
We will help people to understand how Queensland has been shaped by maritime history through the stories we show and tell on

  • Lighthouses
  • Sailing in Queensland
  • Naval History
  • Brisbane’s American Years
  • Ship Models
  • Pearling Industry
  • Steam Power
  • Radio Operations
  • Brisbane Floods

Our Story
The dedication and determination of volunteers has preserved our Maritime Heritage for future generations

In 1969, a Queensland branch of the World Ship Society was formed. Those who joined had an interest in both shipping and maritime history. The members were asked to assist in showing maritime historical artefacts as part of Navy week.  As a result of the interest shown in the display, and realising the scope of historical artefacts in Brisbane, it was decided to form a steering committee to investigate the possibility of establishing a maritime museum in Brisbane.  The Queensland Museum (QMN) advised that it was responsible for all government museums under the Museums Act, but had no plans for establishing a maritime museum.  This paved the way for the residents of Brisbane to volunteer to establish a Maritime Museum for the preservation and display of historical artefacts for the benefit of the public. The volunteerism that underpinned the creation of the organisation has been contagious and stood the test of time with QMM having more than 150 active volunteers that range in age from 18 through to 91.  The dedication and determination of the volunteers to keep the museum operating and growing since its inception has been the backbone of this organisation.  The transfer of knowledge, maritime stories and community spirit from our volunteers creates an authentic Queensland experience for all who pass through our doors.

The Queensland Tug Company retired the steam tug ST Forceful on 10 June 1971 and donated it to the newly formed Maritime Museum and the Queensland Government agreed to the South Brisbane Graving Dock as a site for a maritime museum.  This generated press, radio and TV publicity which attracted more than 50 people applying to be members.  The Queensland Maritime Museum was a reality and the volunteers set about clearing the grounds and refurbishing ST Forceful.  No sooner had the museum opened, Brisbane experienced one of the biggest floods in 1974, which flooded the museum site and destroyed much of the work that had been done. The flood covered the dock grounds to a depth of over 1 metre and flooded most buildings, leaving silt and rubbish everywhere. The volunteers set to work and, in December 1979, the old diesel workshop was opened as a museum display hall by the then Governor Sir James Ramsay.

The next highlight was when the Royal Australian Navy donated the recently decommissioned World War 2 frigate HMAS Diamantina. The dock had been flooded for years and there was a lot of work, mainly by volunteers, making the dock ready for the ship. This included the removal of at least 3 metres of silt from the dock floor. A crew of QMM volunteers, with the help of 12 Naval technicians, sailed HMAS Diamantina from Sydney to Brisbane. Finally, in 1981, all was ready, the ship was placed in the dock, and work commenced to restore her to her original configuration as a frigate. The restoration by our volunteers is ongoing today.

Following Expo ’88, the building that was built for the “Pavilion of Promise” was given to Queensland Maritime Museum as a museum hall. After a lot of hard work by our volunteers, the building was, and still is, open to the public with displays of lighthouse equipment, relics from shipwrecks, marine engines, navigation equipment, and many stories that accompany European settlement of Queensland. The Queensland Government funded an extension to the building in 2001/2, making QMM one of the largest maritime museums in Australia.

In recent years volunteers have continued to maintain and grow the collection with QMM now housing the largest collection of Light House artefacts in Australia.