While at the HERA Uses of the Past & Public Spaces Conference this month I got to visit the Solidarity Museum and see a bit of Gdansk.
The European Centre for Solidarity
The conference and the Solidarity Museum are in the European Centre for Solidarity. This is an amazing building designed to look and feel like a ship under construction in a shipyard. This means the central part of the interior rises up like the side of a ship from floor level. The surrounding building has beams and girders at angles as if supporting the ship. The lack of right angles can be a bit disorientating!
The Solidarity Museum
I can remember the 1980 strike and later events in Poland quite well. That made going to the museum an interesting mix of seeing what I remembered and learning new things.
The first thing that struck me in the museum was the volume of objects and material. There is an audio tour but even without it there is plenty of interpretation. The route around the museum is way marked with clear black and white arrows on the floor and above head height. The displays vary in style which does jar sometimes as you go from room to room. Once in a room you soon forget this because the displays are absorbing. This is from many individual stories and accounts against the broader narrative.
The museum is bigger than I expected which was great. Make sure you allow enough time to see it all!
Gdansk separates into a modern area I stayed in, historic parts and the shipyards. I only had a short time to walk through the old town down to the river. I did spot a church under repair, a tower from 1400 and the armoury from 1605. The wonderful renovated armoury building had lots of decorations form gilt to statues. This included lifesize halberdiers at roof height and splendid dragon shaped downspouts.
Down by the river I admired a restored warehouse. Then spotted two very small diesel powered galleons. These looked like film props with their cannon and gold or silver decorations. I would have liked more time because there was so much to see. But it was a brisk walk to the conference. There I was on a panel talking about a HERA project I’m working on called Public Renaissance.
Found in the Savoy Hotel in Malmo, Sweden, the restaurant is well known. In the 1960s it was internationally famous for the quality of the food. It’s still going today and is popular with guests and locals alike.
Famous visitors to the Savoy
The Savoy Hotel has seen many well known people pass through its doors. The roll of honour in the lobby lists visitors from Lenin to Bridget Bardot. Plus lots of visits by the Swedish royal family of course.
Literature at the Savoy
When I read the Martin Beck series of novels I enjoyed one featuring the Savoy Grill. The murder of the title occurs in the restaurant but don’t let that put you off visiting! There’s a wall panel commemorating the novel in the restaurant.
Food at the Savoy
But is the food good now? Yes it is I’m pleased to say and if I’m visiting Malmö I try to stay at the Savoy because the breakfast is very impressive. The rooms are nice and large too.
More of Malmö
A visit to Malmö at any time of year is recommended. It’s a vibrant modern city with historic roots and has lots to offer visitors.
Last month I stayed in the Hamlet Hotel in Elsinore which had character and a very helpful owner. I was working at the Danish Museum of Technology so had little time to explore. This meant most of my time in the town was at night.
There was a full moon which made exploring very atmospheric. Seeing the town lights almost outshone by the moon visibility was good. The late medieval and early modern town was charming to walk around. The church had a fien gothic look under the moonlight but seeing the castle in the distance was even better!
At the Technology Museum
At the Technology Museum, based in the the learning room, I did get a tour of the museum. It is a very traditional museum with an emphasis on transport. From childhood visits to the London Science Museum and steam fairs this felt familiar to me.
I really enjoyed the fine collection of fire engines. I put this interest in fire engines down to watching the firefighters at the fire station opposite my father’s print shop in childhood. Going inside the recreated fire station felt like a real treat! In the patents gallery seeing the 1965 Lego set submitted for patent was another echo of childhood.
More to see in Elsinore
Lack of time meant catching the ferry to Sweden. So I missed seeing the castle and going in the church. There was more of the town to explore too. I’ll just have to go back another time!
It started with the Gokstad ship
Visiting the Viking Ship Museum
The Gokstad ship
The Tune ship
The objects and textile gallery
The museum shop and cafe
And there’s more