Whether you’re a history nerd, an aspiring seaman or just curious about Nordic art and architecture, Maritime Centre Vellamo in Kotka has something to offer visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Situated in the Old Port of Kotka, Vellamo is home to the Maritime Museum of Finland, the Kymenlaakso Museum, the Coast Guard Museum and the Kotka Cultural Services. The centre provides visitors with an innovative and interactive experience of maritime and local history, houses displays of historic boats and ships, hosts art exhibitions and cultural events and serves seasonal specialites in its own cosy restaurant. It is no wonder that since its opening to the public in 2008, the centre has established itself as a central cultural hub in Kotka.

Seafaring is an important part of the port town’s history and the exhibitions at Vellamo aim to provide unique insights into life at sea. “Few people stop to think about how crucial seafaring has been to our current way of life, both in Finland and abroad,” says curator Erik Tirkkonen. “Throughout history, people have carried not only goods but also ideas, beliefs and religions across the seas.”

Maritime Centre Vellamo: A cultural hub portraying the colourful history of a Finnish port town

Forgotten stories of seafarers float to the surface in the acclaimed Fateful Svensksund exhibition housed by the centre. Providing a look at the most significant sea battle ever fought on the Baltic Sea just outside Kotka in 1790, the exhibition utilises interactive gaming technology and 3D-modelling, and displays unique objects recovered from the wreckage. At its core, however, are human narratives. “Exceptionally, it approaches this military history through the stories of the people involved,” Tirkkonen explains.

An innovative yet human approach is a common element to all exhibitions at Vellamo. The I do! Stories of Love exhibition portrays wedding gowns and stories from the past decade, while Shifting to Wood sheds light on the forest industry in the Kymenlaakso region. The upcoming Escape From Pompeii exhibition explores the Roman Navy and the lives and fates of the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the shadow of the Vesuvius volcano.

While the centre’s exhibitions provide unique experiences to visitors, Tirkkonen also calls attention to the building itself, which is an architectural marvel: “Built in the shape of a massive wave, Vellamo’s façade comprises metal panels in the colour of the sea and glass panels presenting historical subjects. An essential element of the interior is oak, a traditional shipbuilding material.”

Maritime Centre Vellamo: A cultural hub portraying the colourful history of a Finnish port town

Web: www.merikeskusvellamo.fi
Instagram: @merikeskusvellamo
Facebook: merikeskusvellamo

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