Report on the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum Visit
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On Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014, I visited Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum (41 Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard). The collection occupies very elegant light-pastel building with the Classic Greek architectural motives (Scarbrough House). Around it is a silent garden with many different kinds of trees and plants. In such a way, the meditative and aesthetic atmosphere the garden and the mansion provide already helps to get ready for the excursion. The museum offers nine galleries with many attributes of the maritime history of the USA, Georgia and especially Savannah. The building's interior is gorgeous, with columns, marble panels and marine ornaments on the floor. There are a lot of pictures of sailors, ships and seas, some documents and devices sailors of the past used while cruising. Besides, the most impressive part of the exhibition was the collection of ship models. In connection with the marine motives of the floor and walls, the small copies of ships look like real fleet in the sea.
The ships played a very important role in the USA history; before the invention of devices that allowed traveling by air, the ocean was the only route that connected the Old and the New Worlds. Regarding this fact, two models in the museum have a significant symbolic meaning for the world history. One of them is the steaming Savannah. This ship ad very sophisticated and secure design, and its size was great, especially for 1819 (the year of its departure from Savannah to Europe). The creator of the ship was captain Moses Rogers, who wanted to make the first American steamship which could cross the Atlantic Ocean (Braynard, 1963). Savannah departed on May 22, 1819 (today it is Maritime Day) and during the next six months visited “Liverpool, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen and Arendal in Norway” (The Models, 2013). The model of this steamship allows to feel a connection with those times when the American nation just started to create its vessels and to compete with the powerful states of Europe, especially England.
Another interesting ship model is a small copy of the great and famous Titanic, the symbolical meaning of which has very close connection with that of the Savannah. The Titanic is also an American vessel, built in Ireland. Its aim was to transport people across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to America. On April 14, 1912, during its first voyage (from Cherburg to New York), the ship sank after colliding with the iceberg the sailors could not avoid because the Titanic was too heavy and had long inertial motion. The Titanic was one of the greatest ships at that time, that is why the catastrophe became so well-known.
According to the site of the museum, all ship models have the same proportions in order to allow the visitor to compare their real sizes. In such a way, the Titanic (882 feet long) was much bigger than the Savannah (98 feet long) (The Models, 2013). Certainly, those ships belonged to different epochs (there is a century between them) and their makers had different goals (the Titanic was a great passenger liner when the Savannah was a reasonably small, fast and light steamship). Besides, both vessels reveal the most characteristic features of their epochs. The greedy and floppy merchants with megalomania replaced those elegant and clever people who lived in the XIX century. The Titanic symbolizes the world on the eve of the World War I. The way from the Savannah to the Titanic is the way of the world society's decline.
Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum revealed me a very appealing part of human history. If one interprets those ship models through the prism of their symbolical meaning, one can recognize in them not only the devices people used to cross oceans, but the realization of human dreams, purposes and fears. The ships are the mute witnesses of the great historical events and, at the same time, they are the participants of those. That is why this visit to the museum was very exciting and satisfactory.