Macau Maritime Museum was built in 1986 on the proposal of Su Lizhi, the Macau Harbour Master at the time. It opened to the public the next year. Macau Maritime Museum consists of an exhibition building, a maritime museum library and an open-air teahouse. The museum was originally served only as office for the administration of the museum before a new exhibition building was built to accommodate more exhibits.
The new exhibition building, shaped as a sailing vessel and anchored in front of the Barra temple, was completed in 1990.
The exhibition building of the Museum houses one aquarium and three thematic halls exhibiting maritime traditions, maritime history and maritime technology. The Maritime Tradition Hall on the underground floor gives a historical account of the way of life of fishermen in south China and Macau. Its exhibits include nautical equipments and various Chinese sailing boats. Tourists can also see the actual scenes of fishermen making a living, and learn the legend of Barra Temple. The attic floor between the underground floor and the first floor puts on display over ten models of historical Portuguese ships, which are also visually presented by slides shows. The Maritime History Hall guides tourists through historical events influencing China and Portugal from the 15th to 17th Century. Also on display are various navigation instruments and lighthouses. The aquarium features four sub-aquatic environments, where tourists are able to appreciate different species of animals, plants, fish and shells.