Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Museum History


History of the Bass Strait Maritime Centre

The Centre builds on the objects, models and photographs of the former Devonport Maritime Museum, giving context to the collection. The context of course is Bass Strait, and Devonport’s connection to this notorious stretch of water.

With a more accessible entrance to the new gallery spaces the building has been designed to tell the stories of Bass Strait and Devonport. The former Harbour Master’s House, connected by a linkway has been entirely renovated with 6 new exhibition areas.

Originally, the Tasmanian Maritime and Folk Museum was housed at 26 Esplanade, East Devonport, opposite the ferry terminal.  The site proved itself to be unsuitable and in 1980 the old Harbour Master’s House in Gloucester Avenue became available.

Built in the 1920s as a permanent residence for the Harbour Master, the house was a double brick ‘villa’ built on ‘a slight rise in a park about 200 metres from the shoreline and at the entrance to the Mersey River’.  As Devonport developed, this became 6 Gloucester Avenue. A major renovation of the Museum was undertaken in 1996/97 and the Devonport Council’s engineer’s residence next to the Museum was acquired to house historical records and materials.

In 2012 the Devonport City Council, with funding assistance from the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, commissioned the development of a further addition and refurbishment of the original Harbour Master’s house to become the Bass Strait Maritime Centre. Representatives of all three governments officially opened the Centre, Friday, April 5, 2013.

1960 Devon Historical Society formed.
1970 Dame Enid Lyons opens an exhibition of maritime memorabilia inspiring a group of Devonport enthusiasts to begin the process of establishing a maritime museum.
1973 Tasmanian Maritime and Folk Museum, 26 Esplanade, East Devonport officially opened by, then Premier, Eric Reece.
1979 Devon Historical Society reformed after interest lapsed.
1980 Harbour Masters home, at 6 Gloucester Avenue, becomes available and is taken over by the Museum Society to accommodate the growing collection.
1988 Devon Historical Society publishing programme established.
1989 Devon Historical Society became an incorporated body.
1995 Tasmanian Maritime and Folk Museums name is changed to Devonport Maritime Museum.
1996 Funding from the Devonport City Council secured for an extension to the southern end of the Maritime Museum.
1997 New gallery opened by Mayor of Devonport, Ald. Geoff Squibb. The renovations facilitated the better display of models and exhibits, the creation of the Naval Room, renovation of the Signal Station and Mast and relocation to the grounds of the Museum and establishment of the History Room to house the Devon Historical Societys local history collection and extensive records.
1999 Amalgamation of Devonport Maritime Museum and Devon Historical Society Inc. The new amalgamated body became the Devonport Maritime Museum and Historical Society Inc.
2009 Part time co-ordinator employed.
2010 Devonport Maritime Museum and Historical Society wound up and the collections passed to the Devonport City Council.
2011 Devonport Maritime and Heritage Authority established to oversee the development of the Bass Strait Maritime Centre. Note: Many of the volunteers who had given so much time and effort to the Devonport Maritime Museum and Historical Society are now the backbone of the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, managing the collections and ensuring the community and visitors have every opportunity to access the knowledge and understanding the past delivers.
2012 Major extension to the existing Maritime Museum to accommodate the Bass Strait Maritime Centre.
2013 The Bass Strait Maritime Centre opened.

History Posts

Archive Collection

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The Mersey River Ferry

The Mersey River Ferry began when Devonport was known as Torquay (east) and Formby (west), in 1855 with an official licence awarded to Mr Andrews. ...
Dog Teams on the Fram after returning from the Antarctic 1912. TAHO Exhibitions

Ice in the Rigging: Voyage to the Antarctic

Ice in the Rigging: Voyage to the Antarctic is an exhibition touring from the Maritime Museum of Tasmania. Tasmania is a key access point to ...
Image of a wall in the exhibition. Wall is light green with interpretive text and objects. Exhibitions

Instrumental: Navigating and Communicating on the High Seas

December 2021 — July 2022 The Bass Strait Maritime Centre’s first temporary exhibition since the COVID-19 shutdown was Instrumental: Navigating and Communicating on the High ...

Photography Credits

  • Banner Images: Bass Strait Maritime Centre, Kelly Slater
  • Parallax Image: Kelly Slater