The Estonian Maritime Museum has started preparations for preserving the Lootsi shipwreck. If everything goes as planned, the conservation of one of the largest wrecks in Northern Europe can also be observed in the Ship Hall.
‘The Estonian Maritime Museum was founded 87 years ago to preserve the history of Estonian maritime affairs. Undoubtedly, this also includes a shipwreck found recently during the construction of Lootsi Street. It is one of the three largest medieval shipwrecks discovered in northern Europe. Hence, it is our duty to help find solutions that would preserve the recent grand discovery and exhibit it to people in the future. For this purpose, we plan to build a ship hall near the seaplane hangars of the Seaplane Harbour for storing the collection of waterborne vessels,’ said Urmas Dresen, the head of the Estonian Maritime Museum.
The museum built a temporary ship hall at the end of 2015 to preserve the Kadriorg cog and other possible new finds. Following the requirements, the ship hall was built in the area between the Seaplane Harbour and Patarei development.
‘The size of the shipwreck discovered in the Lootsi Street requires that we build the existing hall slightly larger, as the wreck is nine meters wide and almost twenty-five meters long. The need for a larger hall is due to the fact that there might be at least one more shipwreck in the area near the former port. In order to preserve and exhibit current and possible new finds in one place, we need a one-third longer ship hall,’ said Priit Lätti, a researcher at the Estonian Maritime Museum participating in the current archaeological work.
We will specify the date when the Lootsi shipwreck can be visited in the temporary ship hall of the Seaplane Harbour, as well as the initial budget, the next month.
‘As far as heritage conservation is concerned, the decision of the Maritime Museum is a very welcome one. The alternative would have been to take the wreck to the storage area of wrecks in the sea near Naissaar Island, where no one except for a few divers would have seen it. I hope that the Maritime Museum will have a larger ship hall to preserve this find as well as others in the future. Right now, the priority is to ensure in cooperation with the developer and the museum that the wreck is brought from the construction site to the museum. The biggest challenge that we will need to deal with immediately is the professional conservation of the wreck,’ said Ragnar Nurk, archaeologist at the Tallinn Urban Planning Department.
Conservation is not a quick process regardless of the technology chosen. For example, the process of preserving the cog exhibited in the Fat Margaret Tower and getting it ready for exhibition took four years.
‘There is no question that the mediaeval wreck found on Lootsi Street belongs in the museum and will make an excellent exhibit. In addition to its value as a museum exhibit, the wreck is an irreplaceable source of historical knowledge, for example about mediaeval shipbuilding and maritime trade. It is currently important to determine the best method for maintaining the integrity of the wreck during its removal from the construction site and its transportation to the museum. There are no ready-made solutions for the preservation, conservation, and exhibition of such large-scale finds and high-stakes decisions need to be made quickly. Therefore, the flexibility of the museum and its capability to react quickly in such situations is highly appreciated,’ said Maili Roio, advisor on underwater archaeology of the National Heritage Board.
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On the Day of Restoration of Independence, which is celebrated as a public holiday on 20 August, you are welcome to visit our museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Both at Fat Margaret and the Seaplane Harbour, you will find many memories of the restoration of Estonian independence, as well as of the efforts that preceded and followed it.
Last night, on 7–8 July, the second half of the Lootsi cog arrived at the Seaplane Harbour – the stern part and another middle part. The Estonian Maritime Museum will now commence work to display one of Europe’s largest ship wrecks in all its glory.
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Vesilennuki tee 6, Tallinn
Open The Museum is open Tue–Sun 10–18. Closed on Mondays. 7. & 9.4 open 10-17View map