Exposition permanenteMusée MaritimeThe golden age of sea travel

Our collections


Over time, the Museum's collections (over 8000 items) have grown thanks to the marine archaeological work of the “Association Fortunes de Mer Calédoniennes" and "Association Salomon" carried out on a large number of historical wrecks.

About half of the items in the Museum's collections were collected from the two vessels of the La Pérouse expedition, wrecked in 1788 at Vanikoro Island, Solomon Islands.

The rest of the items on display come from wrecks discovered around the New Caledonian reefs: men-of-war (e.g. the Seine), sailing cargo vessels (e.g. the Tacite), ore carriers (e.g. the Roanoke or the Ville de St Nazaire).

The Museum collections also include items relating to maritime activities: lighthouse equipment, lights and buoys, charts, ship models, navigation instruments. Some of these items (10%) are on loan to the Museum from private collections.


La Pérouse collection

Dragoon helmet and gorget - ©Osada
Composition with elements of weaponry - ©Osada
Seashells - ©Osada
Inkpot, candlestick, chatelaine, sealing wax, buttons - ©Osada
Flute - ©Osada
Azimuth compass - ©Lange
Graphometer - ©Lange
Sextant (signed "Mercier") - ©Lange
Coins - ©Osada
North American native artefacts - ©Osada
Religious objects - ©Osada
Glass beads - ©Osada
Parts of a quadrant (Langlois's) - ©Osada
Leadline weights - ©Osada
Dishware from China - ©Osada
Whistle, little bells - ©Osada
Pewter dishware - ©Osada

This collection celebrates a great voyage of discovery undertaken during the Age of Enlightenment. It illustrates the state of European scientific knowledge in the later part of the 18th century and what was known of the Pacific and its people at the time.

The items retrieved from the wrecks shed light on the vessels and navigation methods of the time (parts of ships, shipboard supplies, cooking implements, navigation instruments, weapons, etc.). It also displays items representative of the various places discovered or visited by the ships (geological samples, marine life specimens, anthropological artefacts, etc.).


Seine collection

Double helm of the Seine
Showcase of objects from the Seine - ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine - ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine - ©Lange
Scale model of the Seine - 
Showcase of objects from the Seine- ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine  - ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine - ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine- ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine- ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine - ©Lange
Showcase of objects from the Seine  - ©Lange

The Seine was the first European ship wrecked in New Caledonia (1846). She was a French naval corvette, and its remains shine an interesting light on the early stages of French colonisation in the South Pacific.

The objects retrieved from the wreck are characteristic of the naval vessels of the period, and offer a fascinating glimpse of what shipboard life was like onboard a crowded man-of-war in mid-19th century, such as jars of fruit preserves – still full of fruit. The most conspicuous item is the fine double ship's wheel, brought up from the seabed in quite good condition.


Tacite collection

Bottle : photo and sketch  - ©Faucompré
Jar - ©Faucompré
Smiling Jack - ©Faucompré
Scale weights - ©Faucompré
Candlestick base - ©Faucompré
Candlestick base - ©Faucompré
Stem glass - ©Faucompré
Oil bottles  - ©Faucompré
Wine bottle - ©Faucompré
"Amsterdam" stoneware jug  - ©Faucompré
Candlesticks and coral deposit - ©Faucompré
Lead gun-stocks (toys) - ©Faucompré
China doll heads - ©Faucompré
Small glass inkpot - ©Faucompré
Opaline unguent jar - ©Faucompré
Douche apparatus - ©Faucompré
Glass jar and screw-top - ©Faucompré
Glass jars - ©Faucompré
Billiards chalks - ©Faucompré
"Eau des Carmes" bottle (patent medicine) - ©Faucompré
Scale weights - ©Faucompré
Large ceramic jar - ©Faucompré
Whetstone - ©Faucompré
Candle jar and candleholders - ©Faucompré
China doll-head and dress - ©Faucompré

The Tacite is a good example of the kind of sailing vessels which were supplying New Caledonia with commercial goods in the middle of the 19th century. The Tacite sank a few weeks before Christmas with is holds still half full of goods and materials.

A great quantity of dishware, glassware, bottles of wine, champagne and gin, and much more was retrieved from the wreck. These give a good idea of the daily life of the colonists at the time: perfume bottles, patent medicines, children's toys, etc.


Lights and buoys collection

Original oil lamp of Amédée lighthouse - Dépôt DITTT
Lion-head gargoyle - Dépôt DITTT
Rapeseed-oil lighthouse lamp - Dépôt DITTT
Paraffin anchor-light - ©JF Clair - Dépôt DITTT
Fresnel lens of Amédée lighthouse - Dépôt DITTT
Various lights from navigation aids - Dépôt DITTT
Amédée lighthouse brass plate - Dépôt DITTT

The mid-1860's saw the beginning of the installation of a network of aids to navigation. Many of the objects on display come from the collections of New Caledonia's Lights and Buoys Authority.

The most striking object of this collection is the great Fresnel lens of the Amédée lighthouse, installed in 1865, shown with the original rape-seed-oil light.


Ship models collection

S/V Boussole
S/V France II
M/V Notou
Double canoe - Dépôt Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie
Outrigger canoe - Dépôt Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie
M/V Polynesie
S/V Resolution
M/V Monique
S/V Seine
M/V Tayo
M/V Triomphant

The Museum has a rich collection of ship models, including ships that were wrecked in and around New Caledonia. It includes some of the naval frigates which plied the South Pacific during the 18th century, sailing cargo vessels, passenger liners, along with traditional sailing canoes.

These models, veritable works of art, are wonderfully crafted and highly detailed.


American presence in New Caledonia collection

American war helmet and bottle
Gas-mask - ©Faucompré
Ink bottle - ©Faucompré
Radio transmitter from a B17 aircraft, and its calibration manual - ©Faucompré
Machine-gun from Airacobra P39 and various objects from the American military
Salve box - ©Faucompré
Anti-submarine net - ©Faucompré
Bedpan - ©Faucompré
Gunner's polaroid goggles - ©Faucompré

During the War of the Pacific, over one million American soldiers, airmen and sailors transited through New Caledonia on their way to and from the war zones. Many of the objects displayed were recovered from aircraft wrecks found in the waters of the lagoon.