European, American and Australian ships used Hong Kong as a centre of trade in the 19th century. This painting depicts the American vessel S.R. BEARSE as it enters Hong Kong Harbour with fully rigged sails. ANMM Collection 00005647.
Richard Wood, Treasures of the American Collection, Australian National Maritime Museum, 6 July 2016
Where else can you see a President’s signature (Abraham Lincoln), a Queen’s signature (Victoria R), rare books and etchings, and a seventy-year-old gardenia in one place – but in the USA Gallery of the museum!
These are just a few of the objects from the multi-million dollar collection of paintings, models and artefacts we’ve compiled from the museum’s American collection to represent more than 200 years of the close maritime connection between the seafaring nations of the USA and Australia.
Wrapped in a 35 metre long visual timeline, like a colourful ribbon around the gallery, this exhibition is a giant anniversary present, celebrating the 25th year of our USA Gallery, opened by President George H W Bush on New Years Day in 1992.
America’s Bicentennial Gift to Australia in 1988 was a fund to build a gallery, collection, exhibitions and programs about the strong maritime links between us, from the story of an American on Cook’s voyage to the east coast in 1770 (they didn’t get on, and American James Magra published a book about the voyage, which is in the exhibition, well before the official British version was released), through whaling, trade, gold rushes, immigration, science, war and peace.