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The book "Lost at Sea" takes you from the 18th century to present day aboard the Vrouw Maria and the St. Michel


In the new book titled "Lost at Sea, Rediscovered" published by the Maritime Museum of Finland and the National Board of Antiquities, the reader is taken on a voyage aboard the merchant vessels Vrouw Maria and St. Michel from 18th century Amsterdam to the depths of Finland's rocky waters, and from there to the present day. The ships' voyage to St. Petersburg is cut short when they lose their way and become shipwrecked. One ship simply disappears. The other leaves behind documents detailing rescue efforts and the accident itself, and ultimately the crew survives. The ships' stories continue in the 20th century when their wrecks are discovered and their study begins.

In the book's main article, Eero Ehanti tells the stories of the St. Michel and the Vrouw Maria. The narration and still life-like photographs of objects from the ships present the reader with a view of salons from the age of enlightenment and 18th century cultural history. The article also includes new information about Vrouw Maria's cargo of art, which was bound for the court of Catherine the Great in St Petersburg. The texts of Riikka Alvik and Krista Vajanto shed more light on the ships' fascinating cargo, which included all kinds of items ranging from mass-produced goods to pocket watches and ornaments.
Lost at Sea front cover

The front cover of the book "Lost at Sea, Rediscovered".
Click the photo to open it for downloading.

Meanwhile Sallamaria Tikkanen's article talks about the sound and landscapes of the wreck of the Vrouw Maria. She offers a new visual and aural perspective on a world few of us have visited, one that has not been extensively covered in the humanities. Next up are articles produced by the Aalto University that talk about the modern illustration of underwater cultural heritage. Meanwhile the text written by Lily Diaz and her colleagues showcases the 3D virtual simulation of the Vrouw Maria wreck and its underwater surroundings created for the Maritime Museum of Finland. Svetlana Maraš, on the other hand, focuses on the underwater soundscape of the virtual simulation and its creation.
    
Kari Steffen and Leone Montonen write about the microbiological and physical decay affecting the Vrouw Maria, while Eero Ehanti writes about the conservation of wrecks and whether Vrouw Maria could be Finland's own version of Vasa. In addition, the book includes articles on the protection of underwater cultural heritage in Finland and the Vrouw Maria underwater project.

"Lost at Sea, Rediscovered" is part of the exhibition "Spoils of Riches - Stories of the Vrouw Maria and the St. Michel" displayed in the Maritime Centre Vellamo in Kotka. The exhibition will be open until 13 January 2013. The book has also been published in Finnish.

LOST AT SEA, REDISCOVERED
Editors Eero Ehanti, Johanna Aartomaa, Irma Lounatvuori and Erik Tirkkonen
The National Board of Antiquities 2012, 256 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-951-616-228-0, EUR 49,00 (inclusive VAT)

The publication is produced by the Maritime Museum of Finland, Suomen merimuseon tuki ry and Vrouw Maria underwater project.

Review copy orders:
Marketing Designer Sari Häkkinen, tel. +358 40 128 6043, sari.hakkinen@nba.fi

The publication list of The National Board of Antiquities


Spoils of Riches - Stories of the Vrouw Maria and the St. Michel

25.4-2.12.2012

The Vrouw Maria and the St. Michel set sail from Amsterdam for St. Petersburg. Both ships sank with their valuable cargo in the waters of Nauvo off the South-West coast of Finland, the St. Michel in 1747 and the Vrouw Maria in 1771. The Maritime Museum of Finland's exhibition "Spoils of Riches - Stories of the Vrouw Maria and the St. Michel" tells the story of these wrecks which have aroused strong emotions, using objects raised from them, contemporary paintings on loan from the Netherlands and a unique virtual dive into an underwater world.

The ships and their cargo give us a picture of trade in the Baltic Sea in the eighteenth century. The cargo of the Vrouw Maria included paintings bought for Catherine the Great, while the St. Michel contained Meissen porcelain, pocket watches, gold snuff boxes, a horse-drawn carriage intended for Empress Elizabeth I of Russia and other luxury items. As well as these, the ships were also carrying coffee, fish, tobacco, bulbs, cheese, dyestuffs and fabric.
Photo: Jani Gerkman, The Maritime Museum of Finland

The white Meissen coffee set raised from the St. Michel is almost as good as new. A newspaper from 1772 informs about coffee salvaged from the Vrouw Maria being sold at auction in St. Petersburg. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.


In this exhibition, we follow the St. Michel and the Vrouw Maria from late 18th century Amsterdam to the wrecks of the ships and the events that followed in their wake. The story continues on to the finding of the wrecks, where visitors are able to dive down to the wreck of the Vrouw Maria in a 3D virtual simulation. The exhibition displays 18th century phenomena in scenes inspired by the art cargo and built around finds from the wrecks. Items on display also include art works from the period on loan from Dutch museums, similar to those lost when the Vrouw Maria sank. One of the works in the exhibition is an oil painting by Jan ten Compe dating from 1751 rescued from the Vrouw Maria when the ship ran aground.

The exhibition is the result of interdisciplinary international research collaboration headed by the Finnish National Board of Antiquities. The most recent initiative is the Vrouw Maria Underwater project launched in 2009 which focuses on non-intrusive research methods and improving access to the wreck. It represents modern maritime archaeological research in which the wreck is studied and presented as part of its underwater environment and as a part of the Baltic underwater cultural heritage we all share.

The main aim of the project is to make the wreck accessible to everyone and the "Spoils of Riches" exhibition plays a key role in this respect. The exhibition presents a new approach to wreck research and the accessibility of cultural heritage using a 3D virtual simulation which visualises underwater cultural heritage in a way never seen before.

Completed in partnership with the Department of Media at the Aalto University School of Art and Design, the virtual simulation presents the Vrouw Maria in its underwater landscape. Anyone can dive down to the wreck and examine the underwater world which no-one has ever seen in its entirety.

The exhibition presents the results of this project and previous research and provides the background to the stories, explaining the broader phenomena that the wrecks represent. For this reason the exhibition also includes the story of the St. Michel, whose background is an excellent point of comparison with the Vrouw Maria.

In the exhibition soundscape, besides the sounds of the world beneath the waves, we also hear the music of Arttu Takalo and Speedy Saarinen, which reflects the many facets of the subjects of this exhibition, from the eighteenth century to the present day and from the salons of the enlightenment to the depths of the Baltic Sea.

The exhibition is linked to the book "Mereen menetetyt, uudelleen löydetyt" ("Lost at sea, found again") to be published by the National Board of Antiquities in early summer 2012 and the international seminar to be held at Maritime Centre Vellamo in autumn 2012.
Neither the "Vrouw Maria Underwater" project nor the exhibition would have been possible without special funding from the Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education. The main partner of the exhibition is the media group Sanoma. The Maritime Museum of Finland's support organisation Suomen merimuseon tuki ry and the Dutch Embassy in Finland have supported the exhibition project from its early stages onwards.

Further information

Spoils of Riches exhibition: project manager Eero Ehanti, eero.ehanti(at)nba.fi, +358 (0)40 128 6483
Virtual simulation and the Vrouw Maria Underwater project: project manager Sallamaria Tikkanen, sallamaria.tikkanen(at)nba.fi, +358 (0)40 128 6312
The Maritime Museum of Finland: director Tiina Mertanen, tiina.mertanen(at)nba.fi, +358 (0)40 128 6481

Vrouw Maria Underwater project website

Maritime Museum of Finland website


Background information about the wrecks

A three-masted galiot, the St Michel sank quickly in 1747 without anyone on the ship being rescued as far as is known. The almost intact wreck was found by accident in the early 1950s. Many objects have been raised from the wreck, including Meissen china, pocket watches, snuff boxes and other luxury items.

The Vrouw Maria, wrecked in 1771, remained on the surface for several days after running aground and part of her cargo was salvaged. The valuable paintings on their way to Catherine the Great were not among the items rescued as far as is known, which has raised the Vrouw Maria's reputation as a treasure ship. The wreck was found in 1999 in a search by the Pro Vrouw Maria group headed by Rauno Koivusaari. Some objects were raised from the wreck, including clay pipes and glass lenses, and the vessel has been studied by dives, partly as part of the Vrouw Maria Underwater project.

The Maritime Museum of Finland is a museum under the National Board of Antiquities and the Ministry of Education and Culture, which operates in the Maritime Centre Vellamo located in Kotka's old city port. Vellamo is also home to the Museum of Kymenlaakso, Information Centre Vellamo, Museum Shop Plootu and Restaurant Laakonki.

Maritime Centre Vellamo website


Press photos


These press photos are to be used only in connection with the exhibition "Spoils of Riches".
Source to be acknowledged on publication: The National Board of Antiquities and the photographer's name. Other use is prohibited. Click the photo to open it for downloading.


 Asetelmassa valkoinen Meissen-kahviastiasto
The white Meissen coffee set raised from the St. Michel is almost as good as new. A newspaper from 1772 informs about coffee salvaged from the Vrouw Maria being sold at auction in St. Petersburg. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.

Asetelmassa erilaisia Meissen astioita
The cargo of the St. Michel contained many different Meissen services. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.
Asetelma 1700-luvun Hollannin ilmiöistä
The Spoils of Riches exhibition features displays depicting typical elements of 18th century Dutch life built around finds from the shipwrecks. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.
Viinikauppiasta kuvaava asetelma
Dutch wine merchant Gerrit Braamcamp collected an impressive art collection and the paintings sold from it at auction included those purchased for Catherine the Great which sank with the Vrouw Maria. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.

Pienoispatsaat
Enamelled snuff boxes from the St. Michel. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.

Kultaiset nuuskarasiat
Figurines in Meissen porcelain. The items were raised from the wreck of the St. Michel. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.
Taskukellot
A number of gold snuff boxes and parts of snuff boxes were raised from the St. Michel. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.
Emaliset nuuskarasiat
The cargo of the St. Michel also included gold and silver pocket watches. In the background part of an hour glass. Photo: Jani Gerkman, the Maritime Museum of Finland.