Worlds colliding in the depths of our oceans

Attend an exhibition of the work of one of the highest ever grossing Hollywood movie directors, and you’d expect to see interesting props from his movies like Titanic and The Abyss, original manuscripts, and behind the scenes artefacts.

But when that director is James Cameron, that is just the trailer of his life’s work in the depths of our oceans. The full story of his underwater adventures is infinitely deeper …

JAMES CAMERON - CHALLENGING THE DEEP  is his exhibition, and it’s your expedition through the deepest oceans, viewed through the multiple lenses through which Cameron views the world: as an engineer, explorer, innovator, storyteller, and conservationist.

Because, while you may know him as one of Hollywood’s blockbuster names, he was also the first person to descend solo to the deepest known part of earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, and helped design and build the vessel that took him there.

Created in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum, JAMES CAMERON - CHALLENGING THE DEEP takes visitors on an immersive journey into unique experiences where James Cameron's varied worlds collide: you’ll discover Kate Winslet’s frock and the drawings that Leonardo de Caprio pretended to draw in Titanic - actually drawn by Cameron himself. You’ll be immersed in multiple cinema-scale projections of his adventures into the ocean’s depths, like his trips to the wreck of the real RMS Titanic, to the famous German battleship Bismarck, and explorations alongside deep-sea scientists as they learn more about obscure ocean phenomena like volcanic black smoker hydrothermal vents and never-seen-before species.

You’ll be invited to climb inside the life-size model of the immersible where he spent seven hours to get to the bottom of the ocean and back (it’s also from here that he held the first seafloor-to-surface live broadcast). Play with touch screens that further illuminate the darkest, most unknown places on earth, and view previously unseen specimens brought back from depths few humans have ever experienced.

Starting with James Cameron's very first submersible design – a homemade vessel he constructed from a tin, a pickle jar and his Mechano set at the age of 14 - the exhibition maps out his pioneering concepts, technological innovations and engineering that has brought so many secrets of the deep back to the surface for us all to marvel at.

Like all his work, his inventions and innovations extend well beyond a single genre. On view, too, are the unique diving helmets, underwater communication technology, and “alien” vessels he created for the sci-fi hit movie The Abyss. Hardly surprising that one of the world’s largest blockbuster movie series, Avatar, was created by this multifaceted visionary; a person infinitely skilled in creativity, technology, innovation and storytelling, and a supernatural ability to bring them all together.

It's an exhibition befitting its location – the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle. Like Cameron, the Western Australian Museum continuously invests in conducting ocean research, discovering new species, understanding the biodiversity along our nearly 21,000kms of coastline, the conservation of our marine life, exploring future (medical?) uses of species and sharing discoveries and insights with the wider public.

As Alec Coles, CEO of WA Museums said: “Collections we hold in museums are there to answer questions that we haven’t even asked yet.”

Prior to the public opening of JAMES CAMERON - CHALLENGING THE DEEP, the Foundation for the WA Museum invited donors, partners, stakeholders and WA Museum "Friend" members to a preview of the exhibition, giving guests the opportunity to play, touch, feel, marvel, watch and interact with this exceptional exhibition.

The Foundation plays an important role in supporting the WA Museum in the multi-faceted exploration of our marine world. For example, a 2023 grant was allocated to a project exploring both the future and the past, enabling the WA Museum researchers to undertake a deep dive into "new species and old shipwrecks” amongst the biodiversity and historic wrecks of the Abrolhos Islands.

The Foundation has also launched the Marine Sustainability Fund, supporting the marine and ocean research, exploration, education, and engagement initiatives of the WA Museum, for the future of our unique marine environment. You can find out more about the fund and make a donation to this important work here:

Experience the incredible collision of worlds deep below the waves in JAMES CAMERON - CHALLENGING THE DEEP, showing at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle until 28 July 2024.