Åland’s Maritime Museum in Västerhamn is a museum with a difference that has something to offer every visitor. The focal point here is seafarers’ own accounts, richly illustrated with exciting objects, beautiful interiors and interactive stations. Together they make for a vivid overview of Åland’s maritime cultural heritage.
The top two floors of the extended and refurbished Maritime Museum are devoted to trade by sailing ships. Here you can climb up a proper mast, test your abilities as a helmsman in the ship’s bridge simulator and step into the captain’s cabin from the sailing ship Herzogin Cecilie, which sank off England in 1936.
The curiosity cabinet contains souvenirs that Ålander seamen brought home from their travels, including a genuine pirate’s flag with a skull and crossbones from the 1700s and wooden figures from the Pitcairn Islands where the mutineers from HMS Bounty settled.
There is plenty for children to enjoy at the Maritime Museum. They can go on a treasure hunt and search for the Maritime Museum’s mascot, Ruby the ship’s rat, or they can busy themselves and have fun in Ruby’s room. Ruby’s room also contains a baby-changing table, breastfeeding seat and microwave oven.
At basement level there are marine engineering, shipbuilding and marine safety sections. There is a proper life raft to climb into, a tricky loading puzzle to solve and the large steam engine that is run regularly by the museum’s volunteer engineer officers during the summer season. There are also always special exhibitions on at the museum.
The sailing ship Pommern
The Pommern, the only four-masted steel barque left in its original state in the world, has been a museum in the summer since 1957. The same ticket that gets you into Åland’s Maritime Museum gives you entry to it.
Have a look around the mess and galley area. Stand on the deck, look up at the masts and imagine what it must have been like to hoist the colours high up in the rigging during the worst storms. These days only the Pommerngastarna group climb up the masts and hoist sails from the newly manufactured set they have sewn during the winter.
The Pommern was built in Glasgow in Scotland for a German shipping company and was launched in 1903. In 1923 she was bought by the Ålander shipowner Gustaf Erikson, who at the time owned the world’s largest sailing fleet. The ship was donated to the town of Mariehamn by his children.
The Pommern was in operation until the Second World War broke out in 1939, and she only put into Mariehamn five times. The Pommern sailed on what was known as the grain route between Australia and England.
Nowadays the cargo room contains information, photo exhibitions and films about life on board. You can also hire the ship for private parties.