Container the Box that Changed the World Outdoor Exhibition Australian National Maritime Museum

On Tour: Container

Visit this free, outdoor show and discover the secrets of the box that changed the world.

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin | 22 May 2021 - 29 August 2021

In today’s global world you may have had 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.

In our first-ever outdoor exhibition you can literally ‘step inside the box’ to 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 with the museum building in the background



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.

Tour Dates

Wollongong NSW 
Dotted along the foreshore of South Beach
Saturday 20 October 2018 to Sunday 20 January 2019

Wagga Wagga NSW 
Alongside the Visitor Information Centre
Saturday 2 February 2019 – Sunday 5 May 2019

Narrabri Shire NSW
Alongside the Visitor Information Centre 
Friday 17 May – Sunday 28 July 2019

Dubbo NSW
Alongside the Western Plains Cultural Centre
Saturday 10 August – Sunday 13 October 2019

Fremantle WA
Western Australian Maritime Museum
2 November 2019 - 14 April 2020 

Darwin NT
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
22 May 2021- 25 July 2021




Supported by the USA Bicentennial Gift Fund and the following organisations