Strandingsmuseum St. George talks about dramatic strandings on Jutland’s west coast and the populations encounter with sailors from all over the world. And its a breathtaking encounter with a harsh narrative you experience, when you enter the museums exhibition halls.
The museum is literally located on the edge of the sea, where the exhibitions are told, in a house with award-winning architecture. So not only are the stories exciting - it is the framework, in which they are told, as well.
The museum consists of four exhibition rooms, each of which shows a chapter in the great story of the strandings. In addition, there is a fifth room with changing special exhibitions - and the tower, that houses HMS St. George’s original multistorey rudder. From the top of the tower you see both outside and inside the fantastic panoramic view of the sea, the harbor and Thorsminde. There are stairs and a lift between the floors. In the new exhibition in the first exhibition space, you meet the rage of the elements, and you become wiser about, why the west coast of Jutland was so dangerous for shipping in the past. You will also learn, why the sailors defied the dangers and yet ventured out on the North Sea.
The North Sea has for centuries been one of the world’s busiest waters, and it is also one of the most difficult to navigate in. The sailors therefore called the West Coast the Iron Coast. Until the middle of the 20th century, the navigational instruments were quite imprecise, so the captain’s experience was crucial. A skilled captain could succeed in stranding so well, that nothing was lost.
In the exhibition space, you get the story of one of the greatest stranding disasters in world history, which took place off Thorsminde at Christmas 1811, when the two English liners HMS St. George and HMS Defense stranded during a hurricane, killing nearly 1,400 people. Only 17 survived. On the long wall are the names of the 1338 men, who were on the two ships crew lists in the summer of 1811. Many of them where probably still on board in December of that year. In addition, an unknown number of women, children and civilians. The names of the few survivors are on the next wall. You follow the two ships on their last, dramatic voyage and come very close to life on board through the thousands of objects salvaged from the wreck of HMS St. George. It is a completely unique collection, that gives a vivid snapshot of daily life on an English liner in 1811. In the middle of the room, the table is set for the captain and officers at one end and the sailors at the other.
The museum tells about some of the thousands of strandings on Jutland’s west coast and about the coastal populations encounter with stranded sailors from all over the world. You can try to find stranded ships on the two screens, where you also get knowledge about rescue stations, beacons and lighthouses along the coast. On the sparsely populated west coast, the locals were always ready to welcome injured sailors, living as well as dead, no matter how many came ashore. The living were housed on farms and in fishermens houses, while the dead were placed in outhouses, until the autopsy was performed. A stranding often meant a financial gain for the locals, who could earn a days wages by helping e.g. with salvaging the cargo from the ship. Look behind the doors of the closet and listen to the stories.
In the exhibition you enter the fascinating universe of the marine archaeologist. The sea has engulfed many ships over the centuries, and a large proportion of them, known and unknown, still lie as wrecks on the seabed. The seabed also hides traces of prehistoric settlements. Visibility is reduced here in depth, and you will need a flashlight to explore the showcases with items from the wrecks. You can find treasures on the seabed without getting wet.
From the exhibition you can get further up the tower, and along the way you can follow the rudder all the way to the top. There is a lift all the way up. From the tower there is a magnificent view of Thorsminde town and harbor, Nissum Fjord and the North Sea. About 800 m out in the sea a little south of the museum is the wreck of HMS George. The benches are made of timber from the ship. If you walk the last part of the stairs up to the top of the tower, you can get out on the viewing platform, from which there is a 360 degree panoramic view.
Strandingsmuseum St. George is a really exciting experience!
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