The museum is housed in a 16 century building with a tower used by merchants in Gdańsk’s trading heyday to keep an eye on the traffic on the Motława and renovated after damage caused in WW2. The welcoming party outside consists of a number of Prussian hags, stone statues from old Prussia, also called stone babas and holy stones, a different gathering of whom you met in a previous post.
The view from the top
Inside an young woman obviated the echoing shrieks of a party of excited school children by following me into brief silence and directing me up the tower until they had dissipated. I’m not real keen on heights or stairs, but I love getting a bird’s eye view of cities so I braved the stairs, clinging to the banisters for security, and even managing the last bit by ladder. Because I was up there alone, I felt free to open the windows and poke the camera out for a better look. It was raining quite heavily and the taller buildings were fading into thin mist.
The Sudan Gallery
Polish archeologists have been everywhere, and as a result there are unexpected displays in many museums. The Sudanese one here is very engaging: photos of landscape and people; artefacts that are cognate with ones we use, but handmade; ; models of huts and people dressed for the desert; burial niches, sacrifice tables and ancient times rock art.
The amber gallery
You can’t visit Gdańsk without encountering amber – lots of it. The streets are lined with amber shops, and the footpaths filled with glass cases of amber. The archaeological museum devotes a gallery to it: its formation, its history, it’s gathering, its uses, and its processing. Amber is beautiful, but hard to photograph. The only cases I managed to capture contained the works of modern amber artists. Otherwise, amber preserving living things, a net for amber fishing, and a couple of reproductions from old books.
Every step leaves a trace
I suspect I might be a shoe fetishist. My favourite item in the Cairo museum after a piece of very ancient bread, was an equally ancient sandal. When I saw the Gdańsk museum had an exhibition of ancient footwear I was more excited than I was by the thought of amber. This exhibition began with a language-free slide-show of footwear through the ages: styles and dates are shown along the bottom of the screen. A video, a particular medieval shoe found in the harbour in Gdańsk as protagonist, takes you through the history of this particular shoe and its conservation process. Then there are paintings showing court styles, and many examples of ordinary shoes in varying stages of disrepair: the more tattered they are the more the imagination can get to work on them.