I’d love to travel the world full time, but unfortunately I can’t. At least not at this very moment. Luckily there are many new experiences and places to explore in my own home town, Rauma. Sometimes it’s just difficult to see the forest from the trees.
I have lived in Rauma for about 10 years now. Last week I was biking in the centre, bypassing this interesting building, Rauma Maritime Museum. I realized I’ve never set my foot inside. I really needed to fix this mistake and fast.
After ten years in Rauma, it was about time to educate myself about the real importance of the sea and shipbuilding to this old west-coast town. Being a tourist in your own home town is not only interesting, but also instructive. I was lucky to have the museum assistant Paula Kupari as my private guide.
Besides the miniature ships and sailing boats, the museum has a wide collection of sailors’ personal belongings and souvenirs. The weirdest souvenir I’ve ever seen in my life is this thing hanging from the ceiling. Do you want to have a guess what it is?
It’s the jawbone of a sperm whale. What? I couldn’t even fit it in a picture. It really makes you think a little, when comparing this bone at the same time as touching your own chin.
Unfortunately this book is in Finnish only, but I will try to translate it to you. This book is a medical book, containing instructions and recommendations how to treat different diseases. The mariners might have stayed at sea even for three years before returning home, so every boat had to have a medical book. Nausea was one of the most common diseases, but what does the book say about treating nausea?
It is clear, that a sailor, who is suffering from nausea during his first trips at the sea and doesn’t seem to get used to it, can not work on a boat and should stay on land.
Clear instructions for treatment, indeed. And remember, the book is written in ‘the old style’, which always sounds a bit silly.
While sailing the seas for three years, the crew might suffer from all kind of diseases. Apparently this book has instructions even for treating… how to say it nicely!? Lack of love.
I was surprised by the diversity of the Maritime Museum. There are several exhibitions for different topics, and in March this year they opened an exhibition called Made in Rauma. The history of shipbuilding in Rauma dates back over 500 years. In June 2014 the shipyard company STX Finland announced the heartbreaking news about running down the operations in the Rauma shipyard. The news left hundreds of local shipbuilders unemployed and the news touched deep this little seaside town. Made in Rauma exhibition was built to honour the shipbuilding and shipbuilders in Rauma, and the collection contains their personal belongings, memories and stories.
Hey kids, Rauma has a museum where you’re allowed to touch things!
I admit that I don’t go to museums very often. Naughty me. Even so, I know that in most museums the collections are kept behind glass and touching the items is strictly forbidden. In some museums, you’re lucky to be able to breathe. You can not touch everything in Rauma Maritime Museum, but there are many items you are supposed to touch, and they are even encouraging you to do it.
There are also little computers, ‘knowledge lighthouses’, that you’re allowed to touch. They contain more detailed information about the history of mariners and shipbuilding, such as old photographs, documents and sailors’ stories.
For kids there is also a ship simulator Jenny. The little visitors can have the experience of piloting a ship for example on the coast of the New York City. Oh, and then there is a diver called Mr. Wikholm, who is growling in his diving suit asking for the little visitors to pump him more air to breathe. Apparently Mr. Wikholm is interesting, but also quite scary because of his growling voice. How would you feel walking on the bottom of the sea with eight kilo shoes? I mean eight kilos per shoe! That would make anyone snarl a bit.
Other treasures in Rauma Maritime Museum
In Rauma Maritime Museum all the space available is exploited, even the toilet has its’ own little exhibition. Upstairs there is a small cabinet suitable for meetings. This picture I wanted to show especially because of this beautiful staircase that is leading up to the tower. The staircase is quite steep, so you shouldn’t use it after a few ‘business meeting cognacs’.
Also the garden is exploited. This little wooden building is an actual cabin from an actual schooner ship. Before it was given to the Maritime Museum, it served as a summer cottage in the archipelago of Rauma. The second picture is taken from the ‘bedroom’ inside the cabin. The bed looks quite narrow and short, don’t you think? I wonder if I was able to sleep in that bed for three years, even though I rarely require luxury. Could you?
Lesson learned: there’s no reason why you couldn’t be a tourist in your own home town. So next time you’re lying on a couch getting bored, get your bum up and go to explore the wonders of your town. New experiences can be closer than you think. And in case you’ll ever visit Rauma, don’t forget to go to the Maritime Museum. I promise you won’t regret!
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