All at sea
TEXT: LISA MARIA BERG | PHOTOS © BERGENS SJØFARTSMUSEUM
In the heart of Bergen lies the ideal museum for anyone who grew up wanting to be a captain – or a pirate; a place for all things connected to ships and boats, and the people who know the difference; a place for everything neatly nautical, right in the centre of a seafaring mecca.
Of all the museums in town, Bergens Sjøfartsmuseum (Bergen Maritime Museum) might just be the one that suits Bergen the most: a city whose history not only has a connection to the ocean, but which pretty much finds itself having been built on rum and sea water. “A trip to Bergen Maritime Museum is an insight into a town with a rich and diverse history. Its connection to the ocean has made Bergen a maritime hub of its own. It resembles no other Nordic town,” explains director Per Kristian Sebak.
Beginning in the 1100s, the trade with Europe started shaping the small, Norwegian west coast town. Fish and other produce wasshipped downfrom Norway to the continent. In return, trade was made with textiles, metals, spices and different handicraft products made out of ceramics, glass, leather and wood. This made Bergen into somewhat of a hot-spot up north.
“The European influence made it into a cosmopolitan city, with a diversity in cultures, nationalities, food, produce, music and culture – all due to the ocean,which makes its way in between the mountains,” explains Sebak. As one of four main bureau cities for the Hanseatic League, the German trade and commerce confederation, Bergen became an important logistical piece of a very large international shipping puzzle throughout the Middle Ages.
The right city
The museum depicts the very city and port that it finds itself in. Sometimes, you go to an art museum, look at a Picasso and wonder what Picasso’s house might have looked like. But unless you’re in Madrid, you won’t find out. When visiting Bergen Maritime Museum, you’ll see boats and high-quality ship models in all sizes, entire cabins, ship saloons and sails, until it almost makes you sea sick. And then when you’ve devoured the whole maritime history of the city, you can head for the museum’s ‘promenade deck’ and gaze out onto the very ocean that made that history possible. The perfect location to best enjoy a unique experience like this.