It’s too hot for me out by the car park. Today there are cyclists who come out of nowhere and startle me and I loose my camouflage, dark and gritty like the road surface. So I’ve slipped into The Northern Maritime Museum where I know from last year it’s cooler.
Museums, so filled with history that’s layered on land, in representations of the world that I transverse amphibiously! I’m learning slowly what they offer and allow. The patterns on the tiled floor of the entrance make me dizzy. My arms feel as if they want to all reach out in different directions at once and i have to control my movements!
Last year I overheard that this museum achieved its formal status in 1991, with work done by the renowned Moscow museum and exhibition designer Evgeni Bogdanov. I liked hearing that the collection and display grew, like I hope my knowledge of the Arctic maritime does, out of the experience of the seamen of the Northern Shipping Company.
It was rather too crowded the last time I was here and I had to be careful not to expose myself to the visitors, entwined in a fish net, ever still at the back of glass exhibition case and worried that people would see me as there where too many eyes looking in too many directions. At least no one will look into the window and my world beyond will remain afloat for us all.
This time its different and the museum is almost deserted. I move quickly into the shadow of two English speakers so that the entrance staff do not see me. As they arrange payment and chat on about the Northern Sea Route I dart to the left and into the main ground floor hall, the surface cool and the exhibitions’ lights are sun-bright.
The English speaking pair are discussing the exhibition and I watch them taking photographs and marvelling at the models of large ships. They are beautifully made and displayed and I feel an oceanic eight armed hug coming on.
The pair are looking at models and flag and maps of the maritime history of the regions seas. The Dutch, the British, and of course Russia. One massive wall map shows the route across the vast frilly looking coastline of the Russian Arctic.
There’s an anchor too, large and heavy and I feel the weight of the water and the metal dragging me back into the depths of the delta. Its only later that I see an anchor is in the museum’s logo, and it is black and heavy and propels me back towards the river’s edge, diving beneath a parked car and a quick bullet entry into the blue of the river, like a champion diver, not a splash to give me away.
The women, who I hear is called Amanda, is filled with physical energy and she darts into the frame and is snapped by the man. He shows her the image. We can see your human scale he says.
I take a sneak peek, poised as far as I can on one leg, another sucked onto a glass cabinet. It is cool and oh so flat! I see then another display and glimpse talon of he Russian eagle holding on to reality too!
Then I am lifted back above the surface and into the charts of journeys past and Amanda and her travelling partner are discussing the current state of play on the expanding maritime passage of goods, services, power and weather.
She calls him Andrew once, and I peep around the corner of another cabinet and see him reflected in the glass, in the background of the display though he is in front of it.
He is almost amphibious human I laugh to myself. A display of the shape shifting of the Soviet tonnage in Arctic waters there too, behind the glass and white wooden frame, a rooms of reflections and refractions.
My polyverse defracted! Tiled land and actual land. Surface of water and floating berthed ship. Sail, map and anchor, display case, the water, bank and sky, window and world. Inside the museum, there our shared world, a globe within these worlds, a casket to the past and present and and especially the future.
I’m digressing, climate emergency my alarm bell to leave this double vision space where on the roof I see another blurry version, as if underwater was above the surface, like their website sometimes look I’ll later learn.
Oh, but out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of some strange icy rocks…
Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.