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Priority 5: Research, share knowledge and inspire

Example Search for Cook’s Endeavour

The museum has continued to play a vital role in the search for the remains of Cook’s HMB Endeavour in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, USA. Cook’s vessel, which was renamed Lord Sandwich, was scuttled in 1778 during the American War of Independence. The precise location of the vessel is unknown and has been the subject of a search project by the Rhode Island Maritime Archaeology Project (RIMAP) and the museum since 1999.

In September 2018, Dr James Hunter and Kieran Hosty travelled to Newport to work with RIMAP to continue the search for the vessel. The joint team surveyed two of the Rhode Island wreck sites (RI2394 and RI2393) and collected timber scantling measurements and timber samples from RI2394. The results of the survey, timber measurements and samples from RI2394 are very encouraging but not definitive.

At this point, the museum does not expect to be able to definitively claim whether Endeavour has or has not been found until timber sample testing is completed and site excavation has been undertaken.

The 2018 expedition also photogrammetrically recorded the site, collecting as much data from RI2394 as possible, including imagery of the wreck’s visible remnants, which could provide essential clues about its construction. A composite image of the wreck site could allow its architectural remnants to be correlated with historical records of its construction. Such an image was created using Photogrammetric 3D Reconstruction (P3DR), a cutting-edge algorithmic process in which highly detailed and visually accurate digital 3D models or digital reproductions of real-world objects can be generated from multiple digital still images.

The team used underwater camera arrays that included powerful lights to cut through the gloom of Newport Harbor. The cameras themselves were pre-programmed to capture one 12-megapixel image every two seconds. Visible elements of the wreck site were systematically photographed from multiple perspectives. More than 10,000 photographs of RI2394 were collected during the 2018 field season, from which a composite 3D model of the entire shipwreck has been created.


  • Progressed the search for Cook’s Endeavour
  • In collaboration with CSIRO and RV Investigator, discovered the wreck site of merchant navy vessel Iron Crown, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 with the loss of 38 lives
  • Located a new shipwreck (as yet unidentified) on Boot Reef, QLD, in collaboration with Silentworld Foundation
  • Provided expert advice on the excavation, preservation and interpretation of the ‘Barangaroo boat’, an early colonial timber boat found at Sydney’s Barangaroo construction site
  • Installed the first permanent Seabin, to catch marine and terrestrial rubbish
  • Continued ‘War and Peace in the Pacific 75’ education program
  • Hosted national final of Subs in Schools Technology Challenge
  • Launched new migration portal for teachers
  • Convened a national meeting of migration and multicultural museums to discuss how to combat Islamophobia in response to the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Jointly hosted Women in Science symposium with University of New South Wales
  • Contributed to the design of the Port Jackson scene on the new $20 note
  • Published 70 manuscript diaries, journals and letters as a result of changes to copyright laws
  • Presented a paper at Metropolis World Migration Conference in Ottawa, Canada (1,200 delegates, including academics and policy makers).

‘War and Peace in the Pacific 75’ International Learning Program

2018 was the second year of the ‘War and Peace in the Pacific 75’ International Learning Program. Supported by the USA Bicentennial Gift Fund, the program brings together high school students from Australia, the USA and Japan in a tri-perspective, student-led research project that investigates the events and effects of World War II in the Pacific arena of conflict. The theme for this year was the home front, and students looked at life for those in their home countries as the war raged overseas. Areas of research included censorship, air raids, the role of women, education, internment camps, rationing and dealing with loss, as well as daily life during wartime. The students’ research was developed into a travelling banner exhibition that will tour to the three countries over the next year, and their work is also available as a free teaching resource through the museum website.

One student from each country is selected as a Youth Ambassador for peace and travels to a different country each year for a week of official engagements, public speaking, working with local schools and visiting significant historical sites, as well as meeting World War II witnesses and survivors and government and diplomatic representatives. They are accompanied by teacher chaperones and other self-funded student delegates. The 2018 destination was Australia, which involved a road trip to Canberra, Cowra and Sydney, with the ambassadors playing a leading role in the museum’s Remembrance Day ceremony and hosting their own exhibition opening for their banners to be displayed in Action Stations.

This program facilitates students in broadening their interpretation of history with a view to learning from the past to work towards a peaceful future. A key goal is promoting youth advocacy and international friendship and understanding in a positive and challenging learning environment.

The program continues in 2019 under the theme Secrets & Spies, for which students will produce a set of digital learning resources to be showcased at a tri-nation video conference. In 2019, the Youth Ambassador destination will be Japan.