Down the Vistula to Gdańsk
It was already in 1984 that Poland’s longest river had its museum opened. It was the Vistula River Museum in Tczew, a branch of the Polish Maritime Museum, Gdańsk. Since then, it has presented numerous exhibitions related to many aspects of river transport.
Currently, in the modernized building in 30 Stycznia street, there is a new permanent exhibition called “The Vistula in the History of Poland (up till 1772)”, showing a wide range of issues related to the Vistula: from the description of its basin, the history of settlement and landscape features to the Golden Age of grain and timber rafting (16th-17th century), river craft, boatbuilding and towns situated on the Vistula, with Gdańsk as the main destination of the Vistula trade. Part of the exhibition is based on one of the major source documents describing the transport of goods to Gdańsk in the late 16th century by means of grain and timber rafting – a poem by Sebastian Fabian Klonowic Flis, to jest… (A Rafting Is…) first published in 1595, with the second corrected edition in 1598.
The visitors can see original artefacts, including everyday items excavated at archaeological sites in Pomerania, weights and measures used in the Vistula trade, traditional tools displayed in a replica of a boatbuilding workshop, some valuable paintings, models of traditional vessels navigating on the Vistula and mockups (including movable ones). Interactive “look in and check” stands will make it possible for the visitors to learn the features of the three segments of the Vistula and what the raftsmen used to eat. Multimedia presentations show artefacts retrieved from the wreck of the Copper Ship (sunk while leaving the port of Gdańsk at the beginning of the 15th century) that were once goods largely transported down the Polish rivers, and what the Vistula individual landscape features described by Klonowic look like today (who knows what a wiślisko or wart look like?). Presentations in multimedia kiosks will enable you to become a skipper for a while and decide which river to take and which destination to choose for your ship; you can also find out what the “price of inexperience” ritual was, or what the words ankiernagiel and ferdeka mean.
Join the raftsmen on their way down to Gdansk!