The International Maritime Museum, Hamburg

Housed in the heritage listed Hamburg’s oldest warehouse, the International Maritime Museum displays 9 decks of precious exhibits that include model ships and paintings. The Kaispeicher B building that houses the museum holds displays of maritime history worth three thousand years and an entire deck dedicated to maritime research. The exhibit developed in cooperation with leading institutions of science has been constantly updated. The exhibits include research instruments, model ships, U-boats, samples from sea bed, fascination underwater audio samples, films taken by diving robots of the deep sea and an actual wall of ice.

maritime museum hamburg

By Mbdortmund (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A Brief History of the Museum

Built in 1878 compliant with the styles of Hanoverian School, the original building was a grain silo. Additional storeys were installed as early as 1884. The ten storey building is surrounded by water on two sides. Restoring the old building was a visionary project and the Hamburg’s oldest warehouse was saved from decay with great care. The museum was opened in 2008 in the present venue when Prof. Peter Tamm moved his private collection from his home by the Elbe. Being the largest cultural institution in the HafenCity (Harbour City), the venue shares local history with its visitors and the museum presents a global view with its maritime collection. Situated by the harbour- Hamburg’s gate to the world, the building is an ideal location for the International Maritime Museum.

maritime museum hamburg

By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Largest Collection of Maritime History and Modern Research

The International Maritime Museum holds three thousand years of seafaring history. The historical documents and sea charts on display reveal how the modern world-view has developed. A copy of the “Atlantis Majoris” (1657), the first nautical atlas printed in the Netherlands is one of the most notable collections. Hand painted crown compasses and shining, golden sextants, a ‘signal station’ with teletype machinery and signal codes demonstrate how the seafarers of yester years determined the course and communicated up until the 20th century. Models like the Phoenician galley, the Roman trireme, the Viking dragon boats, and the cog ships of the Hanseatic period and the caravels of the explorers show various strands of development in shipping.

The first form of the boat, the ‘dug-out’, made out of thousands of year old tree trunk by hollowing it using simplest of tools was pulled from the Elbe near Geesthacht. This is the oldest piece on display at the museum. The other interesting collections include blueprints and scale models by shipbuilders during various eras, the block-model of an English ship from 1650, medals and uniforms of navies around the world and model displays of commercial and passenger ships. The treasury holds ship models made of amber, ivory, gold and silver. The displays at the museum deliver a vivid impression of the seas. We are yet to know more about the oceans, the efforts of marine!

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