• On May 30th, 2024 (Corpus Christi) all branches of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk will be closed to visitors
• The Arsenal of the Granaries on Ołowianka Island is closed until June 14, 2024, due to preparations for the new temporary exhibition
• The "Motława" ferry does not operate due to the river embankment renovation until further notice

The Crane new permanent exhibition enters the implementation phase. The future exhibits will include an unusual object found during this renovation

The National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk has selected the contractor of the new permanent exhibition in the Gdańsk Crane: Deko-Bau company from Lubin, known both in Poland and abroad for its grand theatre and opera scenography and for many valued museum exhibitions. On March 2, 2023, during the official signing of the agreement between the National Maritime Museum and the contractor, a unique archaeological object discovered during the ongoing renovation of the Crane was presented. After the necessary restoration works, it will become part of the exhibition.

In all likelihood the only such object in Poland

This unique treasure is a marker stone, or high-water mark, which was uncovered during the works in the underground part at the Crane western façade. Its function, i.e., indicating the highest water level in the river during a flood, is proven by the engraved inscription. – The stone bears the date 1651, which means that it refers to the flood of that year. Our findings so far prove that there are no other water gauges in Poland from between 1650 and 1651, so this object from the Crane may be the only high-water marker from this period in Poland. – explains Jadwiga Klim from the History of Inland Shipping Department at NMM.

The stone may originally have been built into the eastern wall of the Crane, bordering the Motława River. Its relocation and embedding on the west side of the building may have occurred during later works aimed to regulate the river and reconstruct the waterfront. The expert opinion provided by dr Ewa Jachnicka, who supervises the renovation works of the Crane, indicates that the limestone used to make the stone came from the Swedish islands of Öland or Gotland. The stonemasonry products from this material can be found, i.e., in tombstones in the oldest churches in Gdańsk and in the southern span of the wall separating the premises of the Correction House (Zuchthaus). – This is an unusual exhibit, presenting the difficult history of this area. I have found information that on March 26, 1651, water flew through the embankment of the Nogat River in Malbork and flooded the so-called Małe Żuławy area. Did the water reach as far as Gdańsk? Most likely it did. The discovery of the stone is an important record of the historical events. Before the war, in Poland there were as many as eight such signs from different periods, but many of them were destroyed as a result of military operations – says doc. dr inż. Andrzej Januszajtis, enthusiast, expert, and promoter of the history of Gdańsk.

Close-up of the stone with the engraving visible at the bottom part, indicating the raised water level at Motława, in the mid-17th century. Photo: Paweł Jóźwiak
Close-up of the stone with the engraving visible at the bottom part, indicating the raised water level at Motława, in the mid-17th century. Photo: Paweł Jóźwiak
New exhibition pressed for time

The development of exhibition which will also present the stone, will begin soon, and will be performed in parallel with the next phases of the Crane renovation. The portfolio of Deko-Bau company from Lubin, selected in the tender, includes a permanent exhibition at the ICHOT Gate of Poznań, part of the exhibition at the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, an exhibition at the Wrocław Hydropolis water museum and the Sybir Memorial Museum in Białystok. Whereas their scenography can be seen at the National Theatre in Warsaw and the Wrocław Opera. – It is a great honour for us to be able to participate in the modernization process of such a glamorous facility as the Crane. We have delegated the best professionals with extensive experience in such projects to complete this task. The development of the exhibition is a priority for us, and we will make every effort to ensure that the Crane continues to be a valuable landmark of the Museum – says Krzysztof Koptyński, President of the Management Board of Deko-Bau Sp. z o.o.

– The diversity of themes and narratives of the company’s previous projects makes us extremely optimistic as for the completion of the future permanent exhibition in the Crane – says dr Robert Domżał, director of NMM. – The exhibition concept, already developed by Projekt 007, assumes smooth interaction between the traditional means of expression and modern multimedia. – adds dr Marcin Westphal, deputy director of science. – This is a significant challenge for the contractor because the exhibition in the Crane, apart from its scenography abundance and content, will have to be developed in a strictly defined time limit.

17th century Gdańsk in the Crane Towers

The new exhibition that will take the visitors to the seventeenth-century port of Gdańsk, will be located on several floors in both towers of the Crane and in the hoist area. The substantive aspects will be presented in a fictionalized film, presenting as a hero the historical figure of the Gdańsk merchant and shipowner, Hans Kross. – He acts as is a guide from the past, who will take our viewers through the dangerous world of merchant shipping, intricate customs related to merchant transactions as well as the life and operations of the then port of Gdańsk. – explain the museum specialists developing the exhibition. This exhibition will also include themes such as the seventeenth-century shipyard, the life of Gdańsk burghers and, obligatorily, a port tavern. The historical exhibits, dioramas and mock-ups will be complemented by innovative multimedia such as interactive stations, holograms as well as panoramic and touch screens.

Crane renovation is feasible thanks to the EEA funds and funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

The renovation and the completion of the new permanent exhibition in the Crane are feasible thanks to the funding from the European Economic Area and the funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The cost of the investment amounts to less than PLN 18 million, including PLN 13 million from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (EEA funds), and over PLN 2 million from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The rest constitutes the NMM own contribution (from the financial resources of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage). The entire project shall be completed in spring 2024.

By Hanna Borkowska

The project “Maintenance, renovation and modernization of the Gdańsk Crane – a branch of the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk with the creation of a new permanent exhibition” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants and Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

Iceland Liechtenstein Norway Grants National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

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