Humans and the Sea

Semi-permanent exhibition - Funded by the International Museum Fellowship Programme

Human beings and their management of the ocean as a resource is a subject which offers insights into human forms of adaptation and strategies of survival. It also highlights the development of special technologies for laying claim to and making use of the ocean – a theme which until recently only highly specialised segments of maritime research and environmental protection have addressed.

Whenever nautical history is depicted in museum settings, it usually comes across as a very regionally anchored “narrative of loss”. The drastic transformation of maritime professions in the last thirty to forty years is expressed in an emotionally charged desire for symbols and memories of a bygone world. This image stands in stark contrast to the multinational world of 21st-century maritime technology and research.

This fellowship project aimed to critically examine the museum’s own nationally-centred collection and research focuses in terms of content and design. The involvement of a fellow in developing the exhibition contributed to portraying the subject “Humans and the Sea” as the global, international phenomenon that it is. The visitors came away understanding to what extent their daily lives are influenced by social, economic and, above all, environmental processes of exchange worldwide.

The International Museum Fellowship programme

With this funding programme, the Federal Cultural Foundation enabled guest curators and researchers from abroad to work at museums or public collections in Germany for a duration of 18 months.

Charlotte Colding Smith, Fellow at the Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum

Charlotte Colding Smith (University of Melbourne) comes to the German Maritime Museum for the project, “Maritime Resources and Technologies in the late 19th to 21st Centuries.” She has previously worked on Early Modern German book illustration and travel literature relating to the Ottoman Empire. Her project at the DSM focused on the museum’s whaling collections and formed part of a larger permanent exhibit concerning natural resources, resource management, the environment, and shipping technologies.


Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum/ Leibniz-Institut für deutsche Schifffahrtsgeschichte

Hans-Scharoun-Platz 1
27568 Bremerhaven (external link, opens in a new window)