After the first part of the new exhibition with focus on inland navigation on the Elbe river was launched in 2007, now the second part – maritime navigation – invites you for a trip on the high seas.
The overall composition gives an overview of the past, the present as well as the perspectives and tendencies of navigation in the national and international framework. Enjoy the maritime atmosphere provided by replicas of significant parts of ships, such as an old hulk or a mast with sail; together with an extensive collection showing ship interiors like anchors, flags, a steering wheel etc., impressive model ships and extensive illustrations.
The first part of this exhibition focuses on over 1000 years of turbulent history of navigation on the Elbe river, already documented in 983. Its significance for the freight transport to all parts of the world in the course of the centuries is illustrated just as clearly as the development of the Saxon passenger steam navigation, which had its commencement in 1837 with the small side-wheel steamboat, the 'Königin Maria'.
The so-called chain navigation (between 1866 and 1948), a little-known chapter in the history of navigation on the Elbe, is examined in detail here. Its exceptional mode of operation is described in a very impressive manner, for instance through a film or on a demonstration model with an original 50-metre-long chain used in the Elbe river. Furthermore, the different types of ship drives used on the Elbe river as well as the shipyard and port history are presented because the construction of inland navigation vessels of all types such as cargo ships, side-wheel towing steamers, chain steamers, motor tugs, motor freight ships, passenger ships and ferries has a long tradition on the Elbe.
Important German navigation companies are portrayed as well. In this way the sea navigation company Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft KG is among she world's 20 largest container navigation companies; and Scandlines is among Europe's largest ferry navigation companies, connecting 21 ports on 13 routes in the Baltic Sea. The treasure chest completely wrapped in sea blue contains valuable navigation instruments such as sextant, hand telescope and chronometers, which used to be vital for locating a ship's position on the high seas. It is also a great pleasure to see the models of exotic ships, splendid gondolas as well as valuable globes.
From the boat bridge you will get the best overview of the three subject areas of the new exhibition part – maritime navigation. The long history of sailing ships, from the beginnings of seafaring to the pre-industrial age, is illustrated in great detail here. Different cultural areas have brought forth the most varied types of ships. For example, from 1800 onwards, the full-rigged ship and the three-masted barque were the most important tall ships in the European area.
First the steam engine replaced the sail; and after 1900, steam turbines and diesel engines were used as drives. It was the period when ocean liners began taking over the continuously increasing trade between Europe and America, when passenger steamers carried millions of emigrants to the New World and when ever faster and larger ships for both business and pleasure trips were built. In 1898, the fast steamer Kaiser Wilhelm der Große won the Blue Riband of the Atlantic as the first German liner. It took her five days and 20 hours to complete her voyage. The Unites States (USA) set the last speed record, crossing the Atlantic in three days and 11 hours in 1952.
Although this ship (weighing 46,000 GRT) was the largest in the world at her time and was built with the latest advances in shipbuilding as well as in terms of luxury design, she was not an outstanding ship under technical aspects. To illustrate the tragic sinking of the Titanic on 15 April 1912, the story of the 7-year-old girl Eva Hart is told here. She was one of the 703 survivors of the wreck of the Titanic; 1503 people lost their lives in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. German maritime navigation between 1945 and 2007: The development of maritime navigation of the two German states is shown in a comparison.
With the help of the Marshall Plan, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which was integrated into the strong economic system of the Western hemisphere, experienced a fast economic upswing also in all areas of maritime navigation. The economic conditions under the prevailing political system in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), on the other hand, made it extremely difficult to develop a merchant shipping industry. From 1949 to 1990, the state-owned shipping company of the former GDR, the Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) Deutfracht/Seereederei Rostock (DSR), was the sole responsible body for the country's maritime navigation.
Visitors are invited to take a journey through this unique exhibition landscape extremely varied in design and including many interactive areas. You can, for example, practise tying sailor knots on a special frame, the so-called Knotenbahn; pilot a container ship into harbour from the boat bridge in a virtual game; or steer model ferries in a water basin. So please, come on board and discover for yourself what else the exhibition has to offer!