“‘Lux in tenebris. Light in the darkness”
Stereoscopic 3D animation, a mysterious figurehead and a lantern room with a view of the most beautiful Polish lighthouses. A new temporary exhibition devoted to the history of lighthouses and the right of shipwreck has been opened in the Granaries on Ołowianka Island since 20th December.
“We are opening an exhibition entitled “Lux in tenebris. Light in the darkness” right before Christmas,” said Jerzy Litwin, PhD, Director of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, at the exhibition opening ceremony. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. This is a verse from the Gospel of St. John preaching about the birth of Jesus Christ. This is also a parable emphasizing that light and night, white and black are two complementary values. Brightness and darkness also form a background for the “Lux in tenebris” exhibition,” added Director Litwin.
The exhibition is divided into two parts and is held on the ground floor of the Granaries seat on Ołowianka Island. The black part presents a “dark” side of the right of shipwreck. “This right entitled lords of coast to appropriate all objects and shipwrecks washed ashore. The right also applied to finders of these objects. False lights were emitted from the shore in order to cause a shipwreck, vessels were plundered and crews were murdered,” says Wojciech Ronowski, Exhibition Curator.
Stereoscopic animation presenting struggle of a merchant vessel against a raging sea is an interactive attraction of this part of the exhibition. “Special 3D glasses make it possible for the visitors to witness a real disaster at sea,” explains Wojciech Ronowski.
An outstanding atmosphere of the exhibition is created by the combination of a skilfully designed exposition and a perfect balance in selection of multimedia elements. Due to cooperation with Polish and Swedish museums, “Lux in tenebris” has been enriched with exceptional exhibition items. An original document dating back to 1253, issued by the Archbishop Albert Suerbeer of Livonia, Estonia and Prussia, is definitely one of them. The Archbishop threatens to punish robbers for taking possession of objects washed ashore from wrecks of merchant vessels destroyed in a storm.
The second “light” part of the “Lux in tenebris” exhibition is devoted to lighthouses and their history. Exhibited items include models of ancient lighthouses from Alexandria, as well as models from Stilo, Rozewie and Hel and the contemporary Gdańsk light placed on the tower above the Harbour Master’s Office. A reconstructed 17th century lighthouse equipped with a crane and a jib holding a basket with burning coal is a remarkable item presented at the exhibition.
However, the main part of the light hall is a lantern room: the inside part of a lighthouse with a magnificent view of five objects from Stilo, Rozewie, Hel, Wisłoujście and Krynica Morska displayed on screens. “Lighthouses form an unusual type of architectural structures. The combination of their shape, function and historical value of illustrating material progress of civilization, as well as the fact that they have been and still are serving seamen is truly fascinating,” says Fryderyk Tomala, PhD, Head of the Society of Friends of National Maritime Museum in Gdansk. “Moreover, lighthouses are highly important for the safety of transport”.
A part of the exhibition is also devoted to maritime rescue services, such as Polskie Ratownictwo Okrętowe [Polish Vessel Rescue Service] and the Maritime Search and Rescue Service. Tactile models constitute an important element of the “Lux in tenebris. Light in the darkness” exhibition which is adapted to suit the needs of the visually impaired. Models of a lighthouse tower of the Wisłoujście Fortress dating back to 1482, a lighthouse in Rozewie and a tactile model of a 20th century lighthouse in Hel are presented at the exposition. “Elevation of a 20th century lighthouse in Hel is simple and free of additional architectural elements. This is especially important in case of tactile models and makes them easier for the blind and visually impaired to interpret,” emphasizes Wojciech Ronowski.
A figurehead, or a figure placed at the prow of the ship “Georg” which belonged to Georg Linck, a merchant and shipowner from Gdańsk, is undeniably one of the most interesting items at the exhibition. The vessel sank in Skagen area in 1857. The figurehead presents a mythological figure of a young man wearing a loin cloth. As a contribution of the museum in Gothenburg, the figure came back to Gdańsk for the time of the exhibition.
“Lux in tenebris. Light in the darkness”
The Granaries 20.12.2014 – 28.09.2015
The “Lux in tenebris. Light in the darkness” exhibition was prepared by the Society of Friends of National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk in cooperation with the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk. The exposition is co-financed by the funds of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Grzegorz Domowicz of DADO s.c. Dakszewicz Domowicz, a company based in Gdańsk, is responsible for the exhibition design and construction. The exhibition is held under patronage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of the City of Gdańsk.