Tag Archive | Heritage

A visit to the Solidarity Museum and Gdansk

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!

Inside the building looking along the ship style side wall
The side of a ship style wall

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.

inside the Solidarity Centre looking towards the museum
Looking across the building towards the museum

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!

Historic Gdansk

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.

The 17th century armoury in the sunlight
Front of the 17th century armoury

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.

A visit to Elsinore and the Danish Technology Museum

A 1965 Lego set submitted for patent

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.

Elsinore church and a full moon at night
Elsinore church and full moon 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!

Photo of Elsinore Castle from the town with a ship in the foreground
Elsinore Castle at night from the town

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.

A fire engine outside the recreated fire station
Fire engine outside the recreated fire station at the Technology Museum

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.

Inside the recreated fire station showing the dining table
Inside the fire station

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!

Part of the frieze at Elsinore ferry port
Part of the frieze at Elsinore ferry port

Art and Heritage

Heritage meets an exhibition

Helping a friend set up her exhibition at A la Ronde made me think about the role of art  in heritage. How should art fit in? Should it relate to the spirit of the place or simply be an experience in its own right?

exhibition set up tools

exhibition set up tools

Genius locus

I think a relationship between the heritage and the art benefits both. For example AbeySmallcombe’s cobelisk at A la Ronde used a material used in the property and the two female artists echoed the the two Parminters.

Cobelisk at A la Ronde

Cobelisk at A la Ronde

My friend Lesley’s exhibition is a good fit with A la Ronde too. Her use of found and natural materials is similar to the Parminters’ use of feathers, shells and other items in the property.

Lesley with her exhibition

Lesley with her exhibition

Contemporary or same again please?

One question raised about art across the heritage sector is whether to go traditional or contemporary. Even established venues with traditional collections are now venturing into contemporary art exhibitions.

Both the examples above are contemporary but using older techniques and methods. Could something dissonant have a positive impact? Quite possibly but I think the exhibition would have to strike a chord with the audience in some way. Either reflecting a universal aspect of the human condition, like Gina Czarnecki‘s touring exhibition Wasted; or through creating a connection with the venue like Nicky Hurst’s work at RAMM with its local crowd sourced element.

Throughout this post I have only referred to art although many people may wonder why I do not mention crafts. It is because in this context I see them as one but accept in other contexts they are better separated.

Your homework

Go and enjoy Neptune’s Bounty over the bank holiday weekend and mull over how art and heritage relate.

PS please buy something, artists needed to eat too!

Flags for your sand castle art!

Flags for your sand castle art!

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