The Pommern has been moored in Mariehamn’s Western Harbour as a museum ship since the 1950s and is one of Åland’s best known and most loved attractions. For decades, hundreds of thousands of people have visited the Pommern and felt a breeze of history. Now we are offering full storm. Pommern – 100 Days under Sail is no ordinary museum exhibition – it is an experience that moves.
We started with a dream of bringing the Pommern and her crew to life again, a dream of taking the Pommern across the oceans again. With this as our starting point, we began the task of shaping the concept that would be the foundation of the new exhibition. In that task, we co-operated with the award-winning German design studio Atelier Brückner in Stuttgart. Together with them we shaped the concept Pommern – 100 Days under Sail, a different kind of time travelling “based on a true story” where a fictious voyage and crew illustrate real events that have taken place on board the Pommern. The passing of time and the power of nature over man permeates the exhibition, just as it permeated the crew’s existence at sea. The content is based on serious archival research that is transmitted to our visitors with the aid of strong dramaturgy and sensitive scenography, carefully assisted by audio-visual installations and technical elements.
We are calling the new exhibition Pommern – 100 Days under Sail. It is a reference to the fact that it took about 100 days for the Pommern to sail to Australia and then approximately as long to sail back home. A guiding start throughout the process has been that all the stories we present to our visitors are based on real events that have taken place on board the Pommern. In this task, we relied on the rich material we have relating to the Pommern: log books, muster rolls, diaries and travelogues.
As a visitor you get to go on a fictious return voyage from Mariehamn on Åland to Port Victoria in south Australia, by way of Copenhagen, Cape Horn and London. The voyage takes place sometime in the 1930s, when the Pommern was owned by the Åland shipowner Gustaf Erikson. The voyage is presented as stops on specific days on the voyage and in specific geographical locations: day 1 outward bound Mariehamn, day 89 outward bound Indian Ocean, day 35 Cape Horn homeward bound, day 55 homeward bound South Atlantic and so on. These days and places reappear on all decks and helps to bind together the stories and activities on the three decks.
By looking at the crew composition on board the Pommern in the 1930s we were able to put together a crew list consisting of 26 people, from apprentice to master. We constructed the voyage in the same way: starting from material relating to the Pommerns actual voyages, we identified both particualar dramatic events and more general patterns. Thus we got an idea not only about sailing routes and onboard work, but also about the relationship between the individual crew members, something that was essential for the weaather deck soundtrack. For the soundtrack we chose seven characters from the crew list, through whom we were able to place the individual expereince at the centre, where feelings and experiences are just as important as historical facts.