After two-years of renovation at the Great Costal Gate and Fat Margaret, the new permanent exhibition of the Estonian Maritime Museum will be reopen from November 29, 2019. The building complex, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Old Town of Tallinn, now houses a 700 years old ship wreck, unique to all Europe, together with 70 ship models and 50 digital and hands-on solutions.
„We are excited to reopen not only the artillery tower of Fat Margaret, well-known and loved by tourists, but also the passages on the Great Costal Gate, and the new room, which we took into use under the tower and the former courtyard,“ said Mr. Urmas Dresen, director of the Estonian Maritime Museum. „Creation of the new space was the biggest challenge for the construction works. But it also revealed archaeological findings, which clarified the understanding of the city fortification before the Fat Margaret was built. These fragments are exposed to the visitors, as well,“explained Mr. Dresen.
The star exhibit of the new exhibition is the wreck of a medieval cargo ship – the cog. „What makes it so unique, are the nearly 700 items that were discovered together with the wreck in 2015 in Tallinn. No other wrecks of cog-typed ships found in Europe have been accompanied by such items, telling us the story of the life and the goods on the ship,“ stated Urmas Dresen.
The exhibition delivers a narrative about Estonian seafaring from the times of medieval sea trade up to the modern cruise shipping, and has connections to the countries worldwide. Visitors may be surprised to see their regions as part of digital solutions, presenting the maritime traffic or trading; towns, where the ships were built; home ports of the ships during Soviet occupation etc.
Production-wise, the new 17 shipmodels were built in Åland and Mauritius in addition to Estonia. „The workmanship of shipmodel maker Håkan Lindberg from Åland is absolutely exquisite. As the quality standards for museum shipmodels are much higher than for souvenirs, you can see remarkable handiwork where every detail is finished to perfection,” stated Urmas Dresen.
Conservators from Finland participated at the preservation of the cog, and a unique figurehead was preserved for 7 years in Sweden. In total the exhibition showcases a 70 ship models in total representing full fleets of sailing, steam and motorboats.
In addition to the Estonian seafaring narrative, the new exhibition also exposes the exciting history of the Great Coastal Gate.
Moving objects and visualized history to increase interactivity
The exhibition also hosts around 50 digital solutions with an aim to visualize historical data and know-how. „Digital solutions have an immense value to every museum as they help to tell more than we ever could on paper or printouts on the wall,“ explained Urmas Dresen.
The new permanent exhibition aims to be attractive for children due to hands-on items, and for visitors with special needs due to numerous solutions raising accessibility for blind or visually impaired, deaf or needing hearing aids, and physically or intellectually impaired. Thus the Fat Margaret became the first Estonian museum taking accessibility into account on such complex level, and the first tower with an elevator in the Old Town of Tallinn.
Renovation of the Fat Margaret museum-visitor centre was co-funded by the Enterprise Estonia from the European Regional Fund. Solutions for accessibility were co-funded by the National Foundation of Civil Society and Estonia 100.