City Beat: A New Season at the Maritime Museum

2011-04-25. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nils Pasi

Flower buds, birds singing in the tree tops and significantly longer days are all signs of a rapidly approaching summer. Other signs include the opening of Liseberg, the great amusement park, two days ago on the 23rd of this month, and the opening a few weeks ago of Maritiman (the Maritime Museum), one of few floating ship museums in Scandinavia.

Situated on the river right in the centre of Gothenburg, next to the opera house, the Maritime Museum is not your typical museum. At present, the museum consists of 19 unique vessels, including a lighthouse ship, a naval destroyer and a submarine called Nordkaparen. The latter may look big on the outside, but has horribly cramped interiors that makes it the ideal place to confront your claustrophobic tendencies. Being more then two metres tall, I rushed through the submarine’s interior without pause on my first visit, certain as I was that I would be stuck there for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I did not see much of the interior at that time.

In fact, it would be a year before I returned. But this time, I knew that despite being too tall to fully bend my knees when descending or ascending the narrow tube-like entrances and exits connecting the outside hull to the interior, I would be able to make it back out again. That helped, and this time I got a good look at the interior, with all the cranks and levers, buttons and displays that seem to make up all but the floor inside the submarine.

It is dark, it is cramped and you feel completely cut off from the outside world, as if you have travelled back in time. From hidden speakers you hear what sounds like authentic recordings of radio traffic. Some areas and cabins you pass, including the bridge, have unfortunately been sealed off with transparent plastic sheets. But in some of these sealed off areas you will see life-sized figures dressed as crew members man various stations or, as is the case on one of the other ships, just gathering round the dinner table in the mess hall. While all this helps to build an authentic atmosphere, I would have liked to be able to climb onto the bridge of the sub and have a look at the periscope and steering instruments.

Although exploring all the vessels on your own is certainly very fun - and there is much to explore! - I would personally recommend taking a guided tour. There are so many interesting facts and stories about the vessels and their unique histories and pasts that a guide is almost essential. Guided tours are available in English and are included in the entrance fee, although you may have to speak with the people who sell the ticket if you are interested in taking the tour.

Facts about the Maritime Museum (map):

Open hours:

  • April: Friday-Sunday, 11AM-4PM

  • May-September: Open daily, 11AM-6PM

  • October: Friday-Sunday, 11AM-4PM

Entrance fee:

  • Adult - 90 SEK

  • Student - 70 SEK

Find more information on their website.

How to get there:
The closest tram/bus stop is Lilla Bommen. Visit Västtrafik for information about public transport services in the area.

/Nils, team 2010-2011