Farewell to „Sołdek”!
On Saturday, 17 October 2020, “Sołdek” museum-ship – a branch of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk – moored at the quay at Ołowianka Island, will be towed to the J. Piłsudski Remontowa Shipyard S.A. in Gdańsk for a scheduled renovation. The ship will return in all its glory and ready to have a new permanent exhibition installed in its cargo holds. These activities are possible thanks to the project “2 Ships – Common Sea. Sołdek and Vityaz: Maritime Heritage of Poland and Russia” and funding by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.
An Opportunity – Once in 10 Years
“Sołdek” holds a special place in the Gdańsk landscape. It is a city icon, a permanent element at the quay at Ołowianka Island and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. However, once every 10 years, the ship must be taken to shipyard for overhaul.
This year’s inspection and repair of „Sołdek” will start on 17 October 2020. As a museum-ship, it has its main engines and drive systems switched off; therefore, on Saturday, the ship will be towed by two push-boats – “Nosorożec G-01” and “Nosorożec G-02” – to the Gdańsk Remontowa Shipyard, which won the tender announced by the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk for the renovation of “Sołdek”. The operation is scheduled to begin between 10:00 and 11:00 and will take about 3 hours. It will be possible to bid “Sołdek” farewell at the embankment of Motława River, and at our museum profile on Facebook where we provide a live broadcast directly from the captain’s bridge.
Although „Sołdek” is of advanced age, it is still in good condition, and the increasing interest in the ship, year by year, perfectly confirms its popularity – time has come for the renovation of our “floating” museum branch! During the repair it is planned to replace e.g., the fragments of metal planking, ship’s structure and rivets. Moreover, numerous conservation and painting works will be performed in the upper part of the ship’s hull, new electric system will be installed inside the ship, ship’s holds will be renovated and painted since, on a daily basis, they are used as exhibition rooms. The scheduled renovation works in the shipyard will take approximately four weeks. It should be noted that this is the first such comprehensive renovation of “Sołdek” in 35 years, namely since the ship was first open to the public as a museum-ship. When the renovation is completed, the ship will return to its place, but during the installation of the new permanent exhibition it will be closed to the public.
Exhibition about the People of „Sołdek”
“Sołdek and its Times” is a name of the new permanent exhibition to be open at the repaired museum-ship. It will refer to various aspects related to the history of Polish shipbuilding technique, particularly political, social and economic reality when the ship was built and operated. – This is a story about the people connected to the ship: designers, tracers, riveters, welders, captains and officers – says dr Robert Domżał, Director of NMM – We wanted to show our guests the historical world of a steam-powered ship combined with the lives and emotions of numerous seafarers. It will be important to emphasize the ship’s structural elements through proper lightning inside the ship and allow our visitors to meet the selected exhibits up close and encourage them to learn more about the exhibition through modern multimedia solutions. The permanent exhibition at „Sołdek” is scheduled to be opened in September 2021.
The Disabled and the Artists
Due to limited possibilities to see the exhibition at “Sołdek” for the disabled, the project also involves establishing a multimedia station in the reception room at the main building of the Museum, in the Granaries at Ołowianka Island, with a view of the ship. Special 3D glasses will help the disabled to take a virtual tour through the ship’s holds and around the permanent exhibition.
Within the project, in spring 2021, an artistic plein-air will be held in Gdańsk and Kaliningrad, which will allow groups of artists from Poland and Russia to look creatively at the identity and heritage of the region. As a result, we will organize a temporary exhibition of the artists’ works at the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of the World Ocean in Kaliningrad, promoting the cultural cross-border cooperation in the region.
Two Ships, One Project
The repair and installation of the new permanent exhibition in the cargo holds of „Sołdek” are possible e.g., thanks to the project “2 Ships, Common Sea. Sołdek and Vityaz: Maritime Heritage of Poland and Russia” Apart from the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, the project involves the institutions from Kaliningrad – the Museum of the World Ocean and the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. The two-year project “2 Ships, Common Sea…” is co-funded by the European Union within the Poland-Russia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. The total cost of the project amounts to over 2 000 000 euro, of which the funding for National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk will amount to over 700 000 euro.
The main goal of the Polish and Russian project includes preserving the historical heritage and promoting the local culture of cross-border regions through the preservation of ships: the Polish coal and ore carrier “Sołdek” and the research and survey vessel “Vityaz” – a branch of the Museum of the World Ocean in Kaliningrad. – The project “2 Ships, Common Sea…” is important not only because of the repair of “Sołdek”, which the visitors and residents of Gdańsk are very fond of – emphasizes dr Marcin Westphal, Content Director of NMM – We have been conducting this project together with our partners from Kaliningrad, and its main objective refers to dualism: on the Russian vessel “Vityaz” and on our “Sołdek” the same renovation works will be performed, on both ships new permanent exhibitions will be installed, promoting the knowledge on shipping and maritime trade. We will also gather together in spring 2021 during the artistic plein-airs and the exchange of experience and good practices.
Project „2 Ships – Common Sea. Soldek & Vityaz: Maritime Heritage of Poland and Russia” is co-financed by the European Union under the Poland-Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020 and co-financed by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union, under the Poland-Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk and under no circumstances can be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union, the MA or the Joint Technical Secretariat of the Poland-Russia CBC Programme 2014-2020.