I’m sure you’ve noticed that books, photos, video and music give us the capability of time travel. In fact, sights, sounds, scents, taste and touch are amazingly powerful in their ability to take us back in time or to other places.
I enjoy these experiences — when a picture evokes a quick recall of my recent rafting trip; when salt-spray brings a flashback to an early boating experience; or when something I see online dredges up a long-forgotten memory.
I was reminded recently that museums are also incredible vehicles for time travel, as well as for discovery. How is it that a museum can transport us? Is it perhaps the added component of knowledgeable people who bring a passion for historic things? Is it the thoughtful presentation of materials, information and insights that we might not find elsewhere? Is it that we (at least most of us) are there willingly, with curiosity in tow? Could it be because the experience can be so easily shared across generations and cultures? Or, might it be that we can interact with it and move through it physically at whatever pace we prefer?
No matter! Each museum is a very unique time capsule, and that is especially the case with maritime museums!
Learning about the Hovercraft Museum recently, triggered memories of my visits to other maritime museums including the Viking Ship museums in Roskilde, Denmark and Oslo, Norway. I am still thrilled to have had the chance to see the Viking ships, as well as explore the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. I have fond memories of my father telling me about the Kon-Tiki when I was young. I’m very grateful to those who made it a priority to preserve, and in several cases painstakingly reconstruct, these vessels and to showcase them for the public.
Early ships and watercraft may not seem impressive today, especially in terms of size or technology, but they certainly provide insights into seafaring conditions during that time period. Imagine venturing away from shore without the instruments and navigational tools that most of us now take for granted. Imagine being out of communication with loved ones for indefinite periods – very long indefinite periods. Can you visualize the courage it must have taken, or the excitement for those venturing out on the seas in those boats and ships?
I think museum tours are a wonderful entry point into discussions with kids. On the surface, visits to maritime museums can provide them with lots of entertaining details and facts, as well as daring adventure stories. Over time, may come a deeper knowledge of maritime history. Somewhere along the way, they will hopefully also gain some new Superhero skills, the power of observation and the mindset that there are always new places to go, new things to see and new things to learn.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you with this Wiki list of US Maritime Museums – perhaps, something for your Bucket List?