segunda-feira, 7 de julho de 2008

Maritime museum to cement Hamburg's tourist appeal

Hamburg - Germany's principal seaport, Hamburg, gains a large new seafaring-history museum this week to add to a growing collection of maritime tourist attractions on its waterfront.
A millionaire collector of model ships, Peter Tamm, 80, created the attraction in a refurbished 10-storey brick warehouse, the oldest surviving port-storage building in the city's old docklands".
mm's extraordinary collection of 1,000 model ships, 5,000 marine paintings and 60 naval uniforms illustrates the race for technological and military supremacy on and under the sea.
German President Horst Koehler is to inaugurate the International Maritime Museum Wednesday, with the public admitted from Thursday.
In Hamburg, seafaring and the docks have always been the focus of local identity. Launch tours of the canals and huge port are a big attraction. Tourists can scramble in and over two preserved ships, an 1896 sailing ship and a 1961 freighter.
Dozens of smaller historic ships can be admired from quaysides. The city already has museums of emigration and stevedoring. Another, currently closed for redevelopment, tells the history of the customs service. Tamm's model and document collection adds a new aspect.
This week, Tamm showed reporters the first 1:1250-scale model he had acquired as a boy and joked, 'I made a mistake in my life: I started collecting and could not stop.'
Initially it was just the miniature models, which are the size of a finger and were once used in naval training: the Tamm collection now has 36,000 of them, including donations from other collectors. The smallest is just 5 millimetres long and represents a dinghy.
Tamm expanded his collecting to include his 1,000 bigger, naval-architecture models, many 1 metre or more long, and precious models in ivory and pure gold. Later he even acquired full-scale vessels including a couple of midget submarines.
Visitors climb through the nine decks of displays, which are organized by theme, such as exploration or the age of sail. Tamm's interest in the history of naval warfare has been criticized by some German pacifists, but this occupies only one deck out of the nine.
Among the most unusual models in the glass cases are little ships made from pig and chicken bones by Napoleonic sailors locked up in English prisoner hulks. The pastime gave them the will to survive the squalor of their confinement.
Tamm has also collected 15,000 menus from ship's restaurants and naval medals which are mainly likely to appeal to fellow enthusiasts.
While the private museum has made an effort to appeal to children, for example by displaying a 7-metre model of the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 made of nearly 1 million Lego bricks, there are no 21st-century-style, interactive displays.
A children's workshop is to cater to school pupils, but there are no hands-on experiences for adult visitors.
An educational display on the five main shapes of sail - square, lateen, lug, gaff and stay - is static, with neither wind pushing the sails nor any visitor-operated tackle to haul them up and down.
'We could have filled the place with computer consoles, but we wanted to take the building seriously and the collector seriously,' said the exhibition designer, Holger von Neuhoff, speaking at Tamm's side.
Tamm, who began his working life as a shipping reporter and rose to chief executive of Germany's Springer newspaper group before retiring, has kept tight control over the private museum.
The project was granted a 99-year, zero-rent lease of the 1878 building from the city and received a 30-million-euro (47-million-dollar) municipal start-up grant to pay for refurbishing.
'It will required 150,000 paying visitors per year to break even financially,' he said.
The proprietor of the collection and the museum is his Peter Tamm Foundation.
'This is the only museum in the world that embraces all maritime history from the beginning to the present day,' he added. 'All the others are focussed on a particular nation or a particular topic.'
Outside, cranes and pile-drivers are at work building vast new office and apartment blocks for Hamburg's Hafen City, one of the world's major dockland redevelopment schemes.
The towering, 16,000-square-metre museum is to be one of the district's key cultural attractions.

Posted by: Deutsche Press-Agentur

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