Maritime History specialises in collections of images and artefacts representing the individuals, communities, and organisations that contribute to the maritime history and heritage of Western Australia. This includes: Aboriginal peoples, migrants, women, youth, employees, employers, government and non-government departments, marine artists and writers, maritime education, students, and researchers. The department is comprised of three staff, ten volunteers and four research associates.
Maritime History's research includes the study of the State’s fisheries, whaling, sealing, pearling, defence services, ship and boat building, immigration, shipping movements, surfing, sailing, swimming, maritime trade and commerce, and marine engineering, science and technology. Research and information is collated into the department’s research database. The Maritime History department manages one of Australia’s largest collections of watercraft that includes HMAS Ovens and the 1983 America’s Cup winning yacht, Australia II.
The Maritime History department also has an extensive collection of images and is developing collections of small artefacts, artworks and memorabilia.