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Bring it up? How can a scientific diver contribute to popularisation of maritime cultural heritage?

Minna Koivikko

As a maritime archaeologist and a scientific diver, I have been spreading information from the underwater cultural heritage over twenty years. There has been many interesting projects and different means for trying to engage the public. My examples come from 18th century fortress Suomenlinna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by the Baltic Sea. There is a small community of 850 residents and about one million visitors in an ordinary year as a potential audience for the information of the maritime heritage. While trying to popularise the UCH, I have included children from kindergarten and elementary school all the way to various sets of adults with fluctuating level of interest as target groups of my presentations. I have curated exhibitions, wrote a blog and FB-pages as well as updated Instagram account. I have published a PhD study and a number of academic and non-academic articles, not to mention webpages and actions as a midwife for a children´s book. I have organised diving activities open for the public and made several press releases. I have always had a very positive and co-operative attitude towards media, since I see that we are at the same side of the table, only with different methods. My question is, what is the expected contribution of a scientific diver and a maritime archaeologist in the popularisation of maritime cultural heritage? Can we finally accept it as an important part of our profession?

The integration of society through museum, general and higher education (Ühiskonna, muuseumi-, üld- ja kõrghairduse lõimimine)

Hilda-Maria Klettenberg

The aim of the Master’s thesis was the analyses of statistical data from the visits to the Estonian Maritime Museum during 2014/2015-2019/2020 and their correlations to educational levels. This paper will thus discuss the analyses from the thesis and the results from these analyses.

A crate full of questions: an unidentified group of finds from Nargen wreck

Erki Russow

In September 2015, a late 16th-century wreck was discovered not far from Tallinn. Among other things, the brief investigation of the wreck site produced a group of unidentified artefacts, really uncharacteristic objects of early modern period material culture. The present paper will discuss the finds and tries to offer some thoughts on the origin and use of the artefacts as well as to put these into the cultural context.

Unmuting the mute. Creative approaches to the afterlife of an anonymous 17th century lodja

Katarina Vuori

My research focuses on a 17th century wreck discovered from Northern Finland in August 2019. This barge type clinker-built cargo vessel is an anonymous passenger from the past: nameless and paperless.

The wreck was discovered from downtown Oulu and due to post-depositional processes the excavation could be carried out in land archaeology method. The wreck was removed and selected pieces are under preservation.

The post excavation lifecycle (extended object biography) of objects is highlighted In my dissertation: What happens to cultural heritage that isn’t fit for the museum exhibition? What do antiquities authorities think is an ethical afterlife of such objects? What about public?

Could arts and creativity offer new, innovative, inclusive and respectful new roles for objects?

In addition to more traditional archaeological and interdisciplinary approaches I use a structured poetry method to study the meanings and interpretations people (researchers and public of all ages) attach to the wreck. By “From wreck to poetry” -workshops I want to increase the accessibility of cultural heritage and give the public a chance to interpret cultural heritage and communicate with the past in their own words. Authentic pieces of the wreck will be presented in the workshop, making also sensory archaeology possible for visitors with visual impairment.

Lahemaa coastal heritage communities – from research of maritime culture to self-identification through Pohiranna cultural space

Melika Kindel and Ave Paulus

Current presentation focuses on the coastal heritage communities ́ activity in the research and awareness-raising of Lahemaa coastal and maritime culture that lead to self-identification via Pohiranna cultural space. The presenters have been themselves active participants in the entire process as experts and community members. The Lahemaa National Park coastal and maritime culture research projects took place in cooperation between heritage communities, museums, academic and state institutions. In the Lahemaa Coastal Villages Memory Landscapes Project (2015-2017), historically and culturally important places for the villages were mapped and living traditions were collected, in-depth interviews were conducted with Lahemaa’s lore bearers. As a result lists of cultural-historical places were put together, and ways to maintain, preserve, celebrate and introduce them were considered. In the framework of the Study of Traditional Coastal Fishing and Maritime Culture of Lahemaa National Park (2019-2022), the tangible and intangible values of the fishing traditions and coastal culture, the maritime cultural landscapes and their parts were mapped. Besides that, the rights of the heritage communities concerned were defined and proposals were made to promote traditional coastal fishing, maritime culture and coastal heritage communities. Simultaneously with these activities, mapping and description of the Pohiranna language took place, dictionaries and spelling books were published. The activity of heritage communities has led to the self-awareness of Lahemaa’s coastal communities through the Pohiranna cultural space. The language border of this cultural fragment located on the peninsulas of Juminda and Pärispea is the Pohiranna dialect of the Northeast Coast Dialect. The region is characterized by a distinctive maritime way of life, the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the coastal people. The culture of Pohiranna, which was brought to the brink of destruction during the Soviet occupation, associated maritime way of life and perception of the landscape, traditions and cultural identity are now recovering vigorously.

How people percieve maritime culture?

Anu Printsmann

Maritime culture or heritage can be perhaps well defined in museums but how do people perceive it? We have asked in various projects all together around 1000 Estonian inhabitants, where, how often and why they go to seaside, do they find maritime culture and what are its main components.

There have been a lot of talks discussing the rupture of maritime culture during the Soviet period, albeit swimming was still possible in the border zone on certain location and periods, fish kolkhozes thrived and polar expeditions continued. Within 30 years of independence Estonia is still to catch up one of the leading countries in the world – Sweden – by boats per person. Maritime culture that carried refugees in small boats during WWII to Sweden cannot probably be repeated regardless of the development of navigation technology. Sailing seems more exclusive now.

So the answers to the question “Name three words that come to mind when you hear maritime culture” can be as different as “History, harsh, serious” and “Free, happy, sunset”. Maritime culture connects first with fishing, boats, ships, harbours and secondly with recreational activities and enjoyment in a natural environment. Coastal or terraqueous landscapes are still perceived with land-based bias and therefore the cleanliness of the beaches is an important topic. What is not very well represented is intangible heritage – this is where museums could chip in.

The Popularisation of Maritime Heritage and Culture in Ireland. A brief overview of some of the principal organisations engaged in the propagation of Irish maritime heritage and culture and their foci.

Sean. T. Rickard

The intention of this paper is to inform our attendees of the various types of organisations and their work in Ireland. It aims to showcase their ideas, philosophies, networks, and strategies. By identifying what is happening in Ireland, it may provide via cross semination, not only an introduction of the work being done in Ireland but potentially advance several ideas and strategies in disseminating maritime heritage and culture to our brother nations and communities. These strategies and ideas might incentivise the attendees or others in their respective countries that might adopt, assist and utilize after greater investigation of work been exercised in Ireland.

Ship in a museum. How to exhibit an archaeological shipwreck.

Priit Lätti

A shipwreck is probably the most well-known object of study in maritime archaeology, giving an enormous amount of information about shipbuilding, seafaring, trade, and other aspects of maritime history. Several world-famous museums, such as the Vasa Museum and the Mary Rose, are dedicated solely to the exhibition of one ship and its related stories. The significance of a well-preserved archaeological ship-find is illustrated by the fact that both of these museums are among the most popular and visited ones in Europe.

The Estonian Maritime Museum houses two archaeological ships – the find from the Maasi strait in Saaremaa and a medieval merchant vessel from Tallinn. The presentation aims to give an overview of the questions, problems, and solutions concerning the exhibition of the shipwrecks in the museum. The key aspect – how to tell an easily understandable and coherent story about the ship and its findings – is also briefly discussed.

The Maritime Heritage Site at Kotka and the creation of the Fateful Svensksund Exhibit 2020 in the Maritime Center Vellamo

Marcus Lepola

During the Russo-Swedish war of 1788-1790, two significant engagements between the Russian and Swedish army fleets took place at the narrows of Svenskund. These fierce battles resulted in numerous sunken vessels. The remains of 17 sunken ships have been discovered in the sea just outside Kotka harbour. An unknown amount of sunken vessels remain undiscovered, perhaps as many as an additional 10 or more ships may have been sunk during these battles. It was locally known that there were several wrecks beneath the waves. Local people even scavenged wooden parts of some of the wrecks which were closer to the surface. The site of the battle is of immense historic significance since the latter of these two historic engagements, the Second Battle of Svensksund, was the largest engagement of vessels ever to have taken place in the Baltic Sea. During the 20th century the whereabouts of these wrecks was mostly forgotten, but as diving technologies advanced, more discoveries came to the surface. The Russian flagship, the Saint Nikolai was rediscovered in 1948, and it sparked a lot of interest. Tentative plans of lifting the ship were also set in motion but it only resulted in some parts of the ship being salvaged over the course of several different diving expeditions. This was also the starting point in a long process of creating a museum with the purpose of presenting the history of Svensksund to the public. In 2008 the Maritime Center Vellamo opened it´s doors in Kotka. A joint effort by the Museum of Kymenlaakso and the Maritime Museum of Finland resulted in the creation of a new permanent exhibit that brought the history of the battle, as well as the impressive 19th century fortifications which were built at the site by the Russians. The new “Fateful Svenskund” exhibit was presented to the public in 2020. Despite being opened in the midst of the Covid pandemic, the exhibit managed to attract more visitors than during the previous year. The new exhibit uses innovative ways to display the maritime historic heritage as well as visualize the progress of the 1790 Battle at Svensksund. My intention is to present the vision which guided the planning process of the exhibition and the research which was necessary for the exhibit. The planning process also included visual documentation of selected wrecks. My paper also presents the new technical solutions that were implemented to present the underwater cultural heritage of Svensksund to the public at the Vellamo Maritime Cente.

Promoting the Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Research

Patrik Höglund

Museum of Wrecks, is a new maritime archaeological museum in Stockholm and a part of the Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums. The design and unique content of the museum are intended to attract all kinds of people, and to appeal to an international public. Vrak works alongside municipalities, county administrative boards and other partners who want to develop dive parks and new ways to make our underwater maritime heritage more accessible, even for people who are not divers.

The maritime archaeologists at Vrak investigates a growing number of important wrecks and a long term “care and protection plan” is produced for selected ones. Artefacts and other features are mapped and the wrecks documented with 3D photography.

In the museum, Vrak takes the visitors on a deep dive among the wrecks and remains of the Baltic Sea. This is achieved by presenting wrecks and artefacts in digital form. One example is the exhibit Resande Man (Travelling Man). In November 1660, Resande Man sank in the Stockholm archipelago during a storm. One of the survivors, Secretary Andreas Bjugg, vividly described the dramatic shipwreck. Bjuggs story and the wreck itself stand in focus in the exhibition.

To preserve the wreck for the future and for divers, very few interventions have been made on the site and Resande Man has been documented with 3D photography. The material is used in the exhibit where the visitor is standing on the wreck site which is presented in scale 1:1. The artefacts on the wreck is lifted as holograms just over where they still lay on the wreck.

The presentation will focus on how Vrak works with long-term preservation under water. How can our wrecks be researched and presented to the public in a sustainable way?

Finding new ways to make digital representations feel authentic

Johanna Väpnargård and Andreas Braula

Vrak – Museum of Wrecks tells about the maritime heritage of the Baltic Sea. When we started to collect content for this new museum, in cooperation with other institutions from different countries, we soon felt that we had many good stories to tell, but how could we present these stories in an engaging and interesting way? During the creation of the permanent exhibitions, this question really came into focus. Many of the artifacts that we wanted to show are best preserved when kept underwater in situ, but modern technology has given us the opportunity to 3D scan both small and large objects. How could we use this type of digital representations to show the artifacts to the public? If the artifacts were not physically present, would the visitors then feel that the artifacts and the stories that we wanted to tell were authentic, or not? Could we perhaps find other ways to reinforce that perceived authenticity? In the process of developing the exhibitions we were constantly on the lookout for answers to these questions and some of the solutions in the finished exhibitions are interesting examples that might help others to find their own answers to similar problems.

Popularization underwater cultural heritage in the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk, Poland

Anna Rembisz-Lubiejewska

For more than 60 years, the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk (NMM) disseminate of a broadly understood maritime knowledge through the scientific research, education and organizing exhibitions. Currently, the museum has 9 branches located not only in Gdańsk, but also in Gdynia, Hel, Tczew and Kąty Rybackie, where artefacts related to the cultural and technical maritime and river heritage are collected and presented.The popularization of the submerged cultural heritage is still one of the greatest challenges of the museum. Since the 1970s, archaeologists from the NMM have researched and inventoried many wrecks as well as harbour’s remains. The artefacts and the preserved elements of the some wrecks constructions are presented at museum exhibitions. However, many wrecks and harbour’s remains still lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, where they are protected in situ, inaccessible to the divers and invisible to the greater part of the society. An attempt to present and popularize this “invisible” heritage was undertaken by researchers from the NMM, who apart from publishing the results of research and organizing the exhibitions, also implement various projects such as underwater archeology workshops or a virtual museum of wrecks. Another exhibition devoted to the underwater marine heritage with the use of the latest techniques is also planned in the already under construction new branch of our museum in Łeba.

Virtual Open-Air Museum of Wrecks in the Gulf of Gdańsk. Virtual branch of the National Maritime Museum

Tomasz Bednarz

Since 2013, the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk (NMM) has been developing an innovative method of underwater documentation creating photogrammetric 3D models wrecks from the Gulf of Gdansk. In 2015, we have launched the “Virtual Open-Air Museum of Wrecks in the Gulf of Gdańsk”. This website presents photogrammetric 3D models of wrecks from the Gulf of Gdańsk created in the NMM since 2013. The Wrecks come from the fifteenth to the twenty century. All wrecks were excavated by the NMM and the artefacts from them now are on the museum exhibitions. Museum have developed an effective system aimed at compilation of records of underwater objects which has made it possible to create the 3D models featured on the website. Apart from their aesthetic qualities, the featured 3D models of wrecks constitute careful copies of the objects and make it possible to create sections, projections and animation of any kind. Moreover, the models serve as an effective tool for monitoring and protection of underwater cultural heritage. The Wrecks can be viewed in three dimensions using virtual reality googles. The website now contains thirteen 3D models of wrecks with their descriptions, photo and video documentation. The website now contains twenty five 3D models of wrecks with their descriptions, photo and video documentation. We created this website because we wanted to show the wrecks in attractive way and invite people to visit the exhibitions in our museum. The site is used for educational purposes during museum lesson.

The Lovundboat – from wreck to exhibited clenodium

Ann Kristin Klausen

On the island Lovund, in Lurøy municipality, in the county Nordland, located next to the Arctic Circle in the Northern part of Norway, there is currently an exhaustive project to excavate, record, conserve, reconstruct, and mediate the remains of an approx. 600-year-old boat. What can this artifact tell us about both our past and present? This is the base for an exhibition which will be finished in 2023, in the newly built Lovundbåten Museum on Lovund in northern Norway. 

On August 2nd 1976, a couple of wooden pieces were excavated on Lovund, at the end of the municipality in Nordland. From the beginning it was clear that the pieces were part of the remains of an old clinker-built boat. Later analyses shows that the boat was built using oak from the county Agder, chopped during the middle of the 15th century. With an estimated user period for a boat around 30-40 years, indicates that the boat might have wound up on Lovund at the end of the 15th century. 

Locally, the discovery created great interest. A local special-interest group for the Lovundboat was founded in 2015. They would have the wrack excavatieted, record and conserve the remains, and exhibit the finished result in a designated building. This project was enacted in collaboration with the professional archeological communities. The archeologists got approval from The National Archives to implement a research excavation. The private interest group endorsed the excavation. 

After a preliminary examination unearthing the discovery in early summer 2016, the employees from The Arctic University Museum and The Norwegian Maritime Museum started excavating the boat. Several remains from the past was uncovered during the excavation; textiles from coarsely woven wool, tar, remains of garments, equipment and shoes made of leather, plant residue, animal- and fishbones, birchbark, a possible chopstick, and more. 

The original pieces is placed for conservation in a container close to the excavation site on Lovund. The pieces are treated with Polyethylene glycol (PEG – a water soluble wax) and is per today stored in vacuum freeze drying. The construction of the museum, which according to plan will open spring 2023, revolves around the boat parts as its main component, even though the pieces are yet to be fully conserved. 

The boat is estimated to have been 12,2 meters from stern to stern and 3, 65 meters wide, with a height of 2,79 meters from keel to stemhead. Originally, the boat had 11 strakes, 19-20 frames, and was fastened with clenched iron rivets. The boat is distinctly worn, with clear attempts at repairing and plugging with the use of textiles, wool, and tar. How the boat ended as a wreckage on an island at the outskirts of Helgeland remains a mystery. One interpretation is that it used to be a smaller freighter for fish trading, that was wracked on Lovund. 

The finding is unique in a Northern Norwegian setting, as the only boat from the Middle Ages discovered and preserved in the region. The boats dating shows that it originates from the same century as when the Italian merchant Pietro Querini and his crew got stranded on Røst in Lofoten in Nordland in 1432. There is no known remains of the shipwreck or the resulting stay on Røst from almost 600 years ago, but written records are preserved. On Lovund there is the remains of a boat, but no written record. While composing the exhibition about and around the boat, we have to construct this history. 

The foundation Helgeland Museum is producing the exhibition, with the boat parts. We base this exhibition on the Lovundboat, from a cultural biographical perspective, with different sources. What kind of interpretations and narratives can we find in regards to the boats manufacturing, usage, value and cultural implications? How has the process surrounding the excavation, recording, reconstruction, conservation and exhibition been like? How and why has the interest for the boat changed from the time of discovery? How has the technological and societal development impacted this project? 

The exhibition is based on written records such as reports and articles, but also largely on interviews with the people involved; the original finders, the locals, the local-interest group and other advocates, the architect, archeologists, historians, conservators, and more. 

The boat originated form a period of time with an extensive link in Northern Norway, purchasing of goods from particularly the city Bergen and the development of sea bearing freighters equipped for shipments of larger quantities of merchandise. These vessels were determinative for Northern Norway, but there is prominently few findings. This only heightens the importance of the few findings and their role as sources for Northern Norwegian and Norwegian history. As source material, the Lovundboat can enriches the opportunities for interpretation and understanding of the past.  

The exhibition will be constructed around both the boat and the local community, but it will also narrate the development of modern society based on the Lovundboat. As an island Lovund have a unique relation to the sounding ocean. Through thousands of years, the ocean has impacted and formed both the land and its people. A recurring theme is time and relation to time. The Lovundboat museum will bring you both the past and the future. It will be a travel through time in both directions. 

The boat stands in the center, and is the heart of the exhibition. What can the discovery and the process of excavation, conservation, research and mediation, tell us about the past and our own present? 

All of this takes place on Lovund, an island with approx. 500 inhabitants, on the outskirts of the coast of Helgeland. It is here the boat wrecked a long time ago. It is here it got excavated, conserved, and is in the process of being reconstructed and displayed in a specially made boat cradle. This whole process was advocated by local forces in collaboration with the professional research communities and financed by privately run businesses and individuals. This kind of financiering within art and culture happens sporadically in Norway, but unusual within archeological settings.

The scope of maritime archaeology in higher education and popularisation

Marko Marila

In 2019–2021, research was carried out at the University of Helsinki into degree program development in maritime archaeology. In order to develop the teaching, an online learning platform was designed and launched. The platform, titled Perspectives in Maritime Archaeology, consists of lectures and literature by a number of international experts on a variety of topics ranging from boatbuilding to seamanship and from trade and exploration to public outreach and contemporary art. The purpose of the platform is to convey a broad image of the discipline and promote multidisciplinary thinking among students. In order to assess the success of the platform in achieving these aims, surveys were also conducted on student expectations and satisfaction, as well as on changes in the students’ perceived image of maritime archaeology. Drawing from what was learned during the project, this talk is a reflection on the scope and purpose of maritime archaeology in the context of higher education as well as popularisation.

The role of volunteer organisations in popularisation of Maritime Cultural Heritage

Tiffany Norberg

Volunteer organisations or divers can play a significant role in popularisation of Maritime Cultural Heritage. As a dedicated deep diving research team, Badewanne has led and participated in numerous research projects around the Baltic Sea for over 20 years. With its specialised knowledge and skills in deep water research, Badewanne has cooperated with different government agencies and museums in deep projects that otherwise would have been unattainable for the agencies. This helps to bring the heritage to the surface though videos, photos and articles, thus allowing the general public to experience it. It is especially impressive in the Baltic Sea, where wrecks in the deep are extremely well preserved and just waiting for somebody to tell their story. As perfect examples, two latest projects stand out – in cooperation with Finnish Heritage Agency the project “Swan” in the mouth of Gulf of Finland, a fluit built in 1636 and with Estonian Maritime Museum another possible fluit from late 17th century near island Naissaar. The “Swan” project has sparked huge public interest and has reached the news all around the world.

“Living on the edge” The value of dialogue while researching cultural heritage

Helene Uppin

Most museums belong to citizens. But do we relish their ownership? Do we enable enough meaningful dialogue between the museum community and “the others” or do we feel safer sharing the right answers? Do we, as professionals who preserve, research, and translate cultural heritage for a wider audience, acknowledge that we all are “living on the edge” of the museum community? That every staff-member of a museum can be in dialogue with “the others”? In this key-note I am going to explain why transformative learning tends to happen on the boundaries of well-defined communities of practice, and why some objects talk to visitors more often than others. I will bring examples from the interviews and observations from my research and from the Estonian Maritime Museums’ experiences.

Handling artefacts from the sea

Kristel Halman

Yes, the Baltic Sea is a perfect preserver of wrecks. However, thanks to our researchers we have a possibility to get acquainted with the maritime richness and heritage, whether on video recordings or observing real objects fetched from the wrecks, that have been so far hiding under the cold waters of The Baltic Sea.

Methods like close looking and handling objects can stimulate memory, enable critical thinking, promote historical empathy, and encourage interactivity. In our museum education programs we emphasize hands-on experiences, thus giving the opportunity to explore physical objects works as a direct way of learning and creating knowledge.

We will introduce objects from the Estonian Maritime Museum collections that have not yet made it to our public exhibition: they are patiently and discreetly waiting to be brought into the limelight at the right time.

During the workshop we will focus on observing, hypothesizing, and creating stories about objects whose purpose or origin we may not yet know, with the purpose of creating tasks for museum programs. Eventually these ideas will be used in creating real museum education programs at the Estonian Maritime Museum.

Digital tools in museum education

Frederik Lundgren

The exhibitions depict the maritime archaeological process and take us down below the water surface to a sea with a unique cultural heritage from the stone age, middle ages, great power era, 1700s, World War II and to the present. The wrecks highlight many school subjects. As an education officer at Vrak – Museum of Wreck I have, based on stories about shipwrecks and other remains at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the possibility to communicate a cross-disciplinary perspective. In addition to history, a school program can address issues in, for example, social studies, biology, physics, religion and also highlight environmental issues linked to water and the Baltic Sea. The workshop will focus on the digital aspect, how learning with digital tools can be applied in museum education.

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