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Exhibition archive

Small Ships, Great Stories


Ahoy, a ship on the horizon! A fleet of scale models showcases the 100-year history and development of Finnish seafaring in celebration of the centenary of Finland’s independence. The exhibition features a great number of scale models from the collections of both the Maritime Museum of Finland and various maritime organisations. Many of these models are on display for the first time.

The exhibition’s humane stories shine a light on some lesser-known facts from the history of seafaring in Finland. For example, they will reveal why Viking Line’s boats are red and why the state flag of Finland was replaced by a white tablecloth on the flagpole of the icebreaker Tarmo in 1918.

Small Ships, Great Stories is a visual experience for people of all ages – you should set aside plenty of time for examining the details on the scale models! The exhibition also provides a great deal of information on the history of Finnish seafaring and individual vessels.

The exhibition is produced by the Maritime Museum of Finland in cooperation with the Finnish Maritime Society, and it is part of the programme for the centenary of Finland’s independence.


Viapori dockyard – a bridge to the future. Jacopo Brancati, photographs.

The Viapori dockyard has continued operating in Suomenlinna, off the coast of Helsinki, for almost three centuries. Where galleys and archipelago frigates were once built, ships of historical value are now repaired and restored.

The future is being built on the basis of the past at the Viapori dockyard – a cultural tradition is being preserved for the future. In the Viapori dockyard, exhibits from Finland's rich history of maritime traditions are brought together in a single place.

A photograph exhibition allows you to explore the dockyard's busy life. Sounds and music come together to create the atmosphere. The historical section presents the history of wooden sailing vessels from the early 1900s to the 1970s. The photographs explore the passion for sailing, the skills and the friendship that maintain the tradition.

The French Infine Arts art group designed the exhibition. All of the photographs are by Jacopo Brancati and the texts are by Sonia Olcese. Arja Kastinen created the sound installation and composed and performed the music.

The exhibition was produced by the Viaporin Telakka (Viapori Dockyard) Association. The Maritime Museum of Finland, the European Maritime Heritage Association, the French magazine Chasse-Marée and The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland also participated in the project.


Photographs: Jacobo Brancati.


Faith, Hope, Love - Sailor Tattoos

13.5.2016 – 13.11.2016

Matters close to the heart were immortalised on the skin.

The Faith, Hope and Love exhibition explores the history of sailors' tattoos through a unique tattoo design collection. What do these old designs tell us? Can they help us to experience what it was like to work on the frequently dangerous seas

Many tattoo designs are symbolic and expressive of hopes and fears that were perhaps never uttered aloud. They communicate the fear of death, longing for home and the hope of reuniting with a much-loved fiancée. Matters close to the heart were immortalised on the skin. Tattoos of dragons and tigers, on the other hand, represent power and danger.

Sailors' tattoos are more than mere decoration – they reveal the hidden depths of those who bear them. Tattooed skin tells a range of stories about gender and sexuality. Why have so many men had tattoos of women made on their skin throughout the decades? Why are pictures of men almost entirely missing from tattoo designs?

Nowadays, many people decorate their skin with traditional tattoos similar to those which once adorned sailors. But is their meaning the same? Who opts for a butterfly, a pin-up girl or a sailing ship? What kind of tattoo would you choose?

Created by the Maritime Museum of Sweden, the exhibition was brought to the Maritime Centre Vellamo by the Maritime Museum of Finland.

Tatuerade sjöman

Sjöhistoriska, Stockholm.

Majestic Monotony

19.4.2016 – 4.9.2016

Sebastien Leclercq & Tasha Doremus. Photographs of modern seafaring in Finland.

French/English artist couple Sebastien Leclercq and Tasha Doremus began their photography project in July 2013, on a cargo ship sailing from Rauma, Finland, to Hull, England, via Santander in Spain. Following this, the artists spent a month between January and February 2014 on various ships off the coasts of Finland, Sweden and Germany.

Leclercq and Doremus photographed people at work in ports and on the decks, bridges and engine rooms of cargo ships. They sailed on a tug boat and were given a lift on a pilot vessel on a freezing night. The couple enjoyed the hospitality of the crew and shared delicious food with them in the mess.

Despite their documentary nature, the exhibition photographs and short videos can even be considered romantic in spirit. While there is no escaping the occasionally monotonous nature of work, the maritime surroundings lend a certain majesty to the drudgery. The pictures record the simple beauty of torrential rain, freezing winds and the glimmer of sunlight.

Many thanks to the shipowners and pilotage authorities that enabled the photography project and welcomed the artists on board their vessels: Godby Shipping, Meriaura, Finnlines, Langh Ship, Alfons Håkans, Wasaline and Finnpilot.

The exhibition was produced by RaumArs Artist in Residence Programme in collaboration with Rauma
Maritime Museum.
Misana hull pilot reflection July 2013.

Misana storm approaching July 2013.

Misida bleeding pipes Jan 2014.

Photos: Sebastien Leclercq and Tasha Doremus.


13.11.2015-27.3.2016 / 1715. The Battle for the Baltic Sea

Scenes from the Baltic Sea during the Great Northern War

 In the early 18th century, the Great Northern War raged across the Baltic Sea. The rulers of Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Saxony-Poland were engaged in a merciless struggle for power. The prize was dominion over the Baltic Sea.

The kings and emperors led lives of luxury in their palaces, displaying their power in the form of portraits, clothing and extravagant items. At the same time, the crews of their warships lived in scarcity and uncertainty. The artefacts recovered from shipwrecks resting in the bottom of the sea tell the seamen’s story.

The exhibition showcases all this, the bold and the beautiful of their time. Collected from several countries, these artefacts are on display in Finland for the first time.  

The exhibition was produced by Schloss Gottorf, the state museum of Schleswig-Holstein, in collaboration with the Maritime Museum of Finland. The official patron of the exhibition is the President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö.
 Taistelu Itämerestä.

Andreas Henrik Stibolt: Battle of Colberger Heide 24.4.1715. Det Nationalhistoriske museum, Frederiksborg Slot. Photo: Kit Weiss.

13.3.-23.8.2015 / Icebreakers on the Move! Breaking the ice after the war

 A look into winter seafaring, the shipbuilding industry and icebreaking through the perspective of Finnish icebreaker Voima and harbour icebreaker Turso. The exhibition is part of a joint exhibition programme between the member museums of the Trafiikki Museums Association, focusing on Finland's post-war reconstruction efforts.  Icebreaker Voima. The Maritime Museum of Finland / Picture Collections.

9.5.2014-18.1.2015 / The Jug and the Church Bell - Shipwrecks from the Middle Ages

The Jug and the Church Bell exhibition shows us medieval shipwrecks which can tell us a lot about the history of trading, international connections and shipping in Finland in the Middle Ages. Medieval shipwrecks are important sources of knowledge in many ways. They provide us with additional information about a historical period of which we have few written sources.

The highlight of the exhibition is the Egelskär shipwreck from the 13th century. It is the first and only ship-wreck in Finland which has been dug up and examined in its entirety. The finds from this shipwreck include one of the oldest church bells ever found in Finland, a large number of German pottery wares and the big-gest cargo of Norwegian whetstones ever found in the Baltic Sea. Another very interesting find is a barrel of small steel bars: it is not every day that we come across unused raw materials dating back over 700 years! The cargo found in the shipwreck provides us with internationally valuable information about medieval material culture and a unique perspective on medieval trading networks in the Baltic Sea area. Many of these objects and remains of the shipwreck can be seen in the Jug and the Church Bell exhibition.

The exhibition also tells us about other medieval shipwrecks in Finland. The Baltic Sea is famous for its many well-preserved shipwrecks. Few of them, however, date from the Middle Ages. In Finland, five have been found so far. The shipwreck of Turku Castle, found under the Linnankatu street in Turku and the Lapuri shipwreck, discovered in Virolahti, have been dated to the 13th or 14th century. The Lapuri shipwreck was originally thought to be from the Viking Age. The Vidskär shipwreck site in Korppoo, with its bronze vessels and ship fragments, has been dated to the 14th or 15th century as has the Svartså shipwreck in Porvoo, found when dredging work was carried out in a river in 1971.

9.5.2014-18.1.2015 / Castles and knights in the Knight's Workshop

An interactive Knight's Workshop has also been set up for younger visitors. In the Knight's Workshop children can carry out hands-on experiments: they can find out what a suit of armour feels like, try to piece together tournament armour, learn about coats of arms and Finnish castles, and deliver the cargo of the sunken Egelskär ship to its rightful owners. At the centre of all this is a Knight's Castle where children can relax, play or read books. The Knight's Workshop is located in the introductory hall of the main exhibition in the Maritime Museum of Finland and it is open until 18 January 2015. The opening and closing hours are the same as those of the museum.

Vidskärin kannu. Stefan Wessman.

Egelskärin kirkonkello. Erik Tirkkonen.