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The year 2015 at the National Maritime Museum

It has been an extremely intensive year, full of hard work but also successes. We have built a new branch and renovated buildings that needed renovation. We have acquired many valuable exhibits, celebrated the institution’s 55th birthday and victory in the Dragon Boat competition. We gave the Sołdek Ship-Museum to stormtroopers and rebels, and then
Published: January 5, 2016 - 16:21
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 12:38
The year 2015 at the National Maritime Museum

It has been an extremely intensive year, full of hard work but also successes. We have built a new branch and renovated buildings that needed renovation. We have acquired many valuable exhibits, celebrated the institution’s 55th birthday and victory in the Dragon Boat competition. We gave the Sołdek Ship-Museum to stormtroopers and rebels, and then to the godmothers of Polish ships. What else happened at the Museum in 2015?

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Overcoming barriers

We began January with an exhibition of artworks by charges of the “Sprawni Inaczej” Foundation. The cooperation between the Museum and the Foundation began in 2002, and it was the beginning of a common path in overcoming barriers and prejudices against disabled people. One way of changing stereotypes is to organise exhibitions of works created in occupational therapy workshops. “Fairy Tales of the Salty Wind” is the ninth exhibition of works by disabled people organised at our Museum.

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Nomination, publication and seminar

In February we kept our fingers crossed for our archaeologists and divers, who were nominated for the prestigious Travelery award, awarded by “National Geographic” magazine, for developing and implementing an innovative method of underwater documentation of wrecks in 3D. In February, we also celebrated the publication of the book The Coppersmith and His Cargo. This volume is a bilingual, comprehensive publication dedicated to the pioneers of maritime archaeology in our country and contains a compendium of knowledge on one of the greatest discoveries of underwater archaeology in Poland.

In March, we co-organised a Polish-Flemish scientific seminar ‘Ships and Cargo’, devoted to the trade relations between Gdansk and cities in present-day Belgium, established in the Middle Ages. The meeting was part of the Flemish Week in Gdansk. Participants included archaeologists and historians from Poland and Belgium.

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Sibyl for Copper

On 24 April we received the museum’s “Oscar”, or “Sybil”. This most important museum prize was awarded to us for the project “Scientific research on the wreck of a medieval ship, the so-called Copper Ship, and its cargo”, in the category “Scientific and research projects”. The statuette during the Congress of Museum Workers in Łódź was received by the Director of the National Museum in Kraków, Dr. Jerzy Litwin, and Dr. Waldemar Ossowski. For several years Dr. Ossowski has been systematically obtaining grants allowing him to supplement the information on the wreck and the cargo found on it, and then he supervised their elaboration as a scientific editor of the volume “The Copper Ship. (“The Copper Ship. A Medieval Shipwreck and Its Cargo”).

Busy May

May 2015 was an extremely intense and busy month. For one night, we gave the museum over to the heroes of the “Star Wars” film saga (while in the Crane the Dreaming Knights took care of a more peaceful atmosphere). At the same time we received an important monument – a historic bell from the transatlantic liner “Sobieski”, we opened an exhibition of works by Henryk Baranowski, and we had a great time during the “Dragon Boat” race. In the category of scientific events, May was monopolized by the CONDITION.2015 conference, dedicated to the conservation and digitalization of historical monuments. One hundred conference participants had the opportunity to discuss and exchange experiences related to everyday conservation problems. The original bell from “Soldek” also returned to us. About 40 years ago, the captain of the ship donated this bell to the head of the Danish customs office in Copenhagen – as a memento. After the Dane’s death, his widow decided to donate the valuable exhibit to the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk.

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June exhibitions and cannons from the “Glass”

In June we opened two important exhibitions: “Ships. Our Passion” at the Maritime Culture Centre and “Mothers and Ships” on “Sołdek”. The first exhibition – interactive, modern, using advanced visualisation techniques and computer simulation – was prepared by the shipbuilding group Remontowa Holding S.A. The exhibition presents a picture of achievements and technological capabilities of companies belonging to the Remontowa Holding group, proving that business can be conducted with a truly scientific passion. “Mothers and Ships” is a sentimental exhibition and a touching story about how the title godmothers over the years “warmed the image of technology and took care of the tough guys”. The exhibition prepared by the Gdańsk Shipowners’ Godmothers’ Club shows in many dimensions how the tradition of ship christening was shaped, who the godmothers were and how important their contacts with ship crews were.

At the end of June our archaeologists and divers celebrated their triumphs, having completed the research of the wreck F53.30, carried out under the project “Virtual Skansen Wrecks of the Gulf of Gdansk”. “Szklany”, which is probably a remnant of a Gdańsk merchant ship from the second half of the 17th century, carried nearly two-metre cannons, barrels with iron bars and glass bottles.

Jubilee of a sailing ship and a new Falat

Before it leaves for Nauta Shipyard in Gdynia in the autumn for mast repairs, on 13 July the “Dar Pomorza” celebrated an important jubilee: the 85th anniversary of raising the Polish flag. The sailing ship was opened to the public in 1983 and since then – as a branch of the Museum – has always enjoyed great popularity. This year, the 4 millionth visitor crossed its deck. Also in July, the art collection of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk was enriched with a unique work – the painting “Poland’s Wedding to the Sea”. Also in July, the art collection of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk was enriched with a unique work – the painting “Poland’s Wedding to the Sea” by Julian Fałat. The painting, which remained in private hands and was unknown to the wider public for many decades, appeared in June this year in the offer of one of the capital’s auction houses. Thanks to a special subsidy from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, it was acquired for the Museum’s collection. Preservation work is currently underway on the Fałat work, which will soon be presented in the Museum’s Maritime Gallery.

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Treasures of the Trenches and the Festival

In August, during work on the construction of an artificial reef in Rowy, an unusual discovery was made. Divers from the Maritime Office in Słupsk, supported by our underwater archaeologists and conservators, have excavated a collection of rock guns from the 17th and 18th century. The armoury from Rowy is currently being looked after by our specialists from the Conservation Studio. Also in August, we organised two family festivals for the people of Tczew to promote the building of the Shipwreck Conservation Centre. Children took part in numerous games and plays. Adults could try their hand at rope making, and take home a rope they had made themselves.

Underwater archaeologists at the NMM

In September we gave our Museum over to underwater archaeologists from all over the world. The 14th International Symposium “Boats and Ships in Archaeology” (International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology – ISBSA) is one of the most prestigious scientific meetings dedicated to the marine and underwater archaeology community. In 2015, the honour of organising the conference fell to our Museum. Among the invited guests – experts on the subject and experts in their fields, there were scientists from all over the world: including Vietnam, Germany, France, Sweden, the United States, Norway and Israel, Australia and Canada. The secretary of the conference was Waldemar Ossowski, PhD, who a month later, after winning the competition, became the new director of the Gdańsk History Museum.

Underwater archaeologists at the NMM

In October the “Dar Pomorza” went to Nauta Shipyard for mast repairs. In the Gdynia shipyard steel overlays were welded in the places of defects and after three weeks of absence the “Dar Pomorza” returned to its permanent place at the Pomeranian Quay. Also in October the Council of the Association of Ship Employers Forum presented its prestigious “Innovative Maritime Economy” awards. The Council decided to award the NMM Director Dr Jerzy Litwin with the “Personality” statuette “for many years of activity in actively promoting cultural elements related to the shipbuilding industry and the interactive exhibition Ships. Our Passion’.

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Our birthday

On 27 November we celebrated the Museum’s 55th birthday and hosted our friends at a gala event at Gdansk University of Technology. The evening was an opportunity to reminisce, take stock of the time that has passed and take stock of our achievements and successes. During the ceremony, congratulatory letters from the newly appointed Ministers for Culture and National Heritage, Jarosław Sellin, and for Maritime Economy and Shipping, Marek Gróbarczyk, were read out. The Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, appreciated the work of all the NMM directors, while Hanna Zych-Cisoń read out a letter from Marshal Mieczysław Struk, who referred with appreciation to the construction of the Shipwreck Conservation Centre together with the Study Warehouse in Tczew. Bogdan Borusewicz, Deputy Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, mentioned that he was particularly attached to the NMN, because he had found shelter on “Sołdek” during the strikes of 1980. Marek Stępa, the Vice-President of Gdynia for Development, confirmed the City’s interest in the concept of building the Sailing Museum at the end of Molo Rybackie. President of the Society of Friends of the National Museum in Gdańsk, Dr Fryderyk Tomala, appreciated the commitment of the 230 employees working at all the NMM’s branches.

Educators, canoes and yachts for Christmas

In December our educators, together with the European Solidarity Centre, organised the 10th Forum of Museum Educators Conference. The two-day symposium entitled “Museum and school. Competition in teaching or partnership?” brought together museum professionals responsible for creating an educational offer and teachers experienced in building school-museum relations. The educational sphere plays an extremely important role in the functioning of contemporary museums, co-creating their brand and reputation. Classes for preschoolers, lessons for older pupils, special programmes for organised groups – museum educators ensure that the offer of a given institution is competitive, interesting and constantly new.

Also in December, we acquired an unusual exhibit for our collection – Marcin Gienieczko’s canoe, in which he sailed down the Amazon River. In the future, the canoe will be exhibited in the Study Depot at the Shipwreck Conservation Centre, taking pride of place next to “Opty”, “Dali” and “Kumka IV”. Just before Christmas these legendary yachts returned from the Puck boat-building workshop – Complex Jacht, where for a year and a half they were repaired and underwent conservation treatments. The Tczew Centre has received the first exhibits, which will also be one of the most important relics in the facility. Our new branch is opening already in spring!

Source: nmm.pl

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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