The historic seaplane hangars in Tallinn’s Seaplane Harbour that opened their doors to the public as a branch of the Estonian Maritime Museum exactly one month ago attracted 45 000 visitors in the first month.
Besides Estonians, large numbers of tourists from other countries have been to see the hangars. Nearly one third of the guests were foreigners, Seaplane Harbour marketing manager Triin Visnapuu said.
The director of the Maritime Museum, Urmas Dresen, said the visitor numbers are about one third bigger than the museum dared hope initially. “When we said last fall we’d bring 100 000 people to the museum in seven months, we were looked at as if we were slightly nutty. Today we’d risk a guess that we’ll reach this number even before the snow falls,” he said.
The two-year restoration of the Seaplane Harbour and creation of the exposition cost around 15 million euros. The three-level exposition includes the legendary Estonian submarine Lembit, a life-size copy of the Short 184 seaplane, and the 16th-century Maasilinn shipwreck found off the island of Saaremaa.
The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colorful history of Estonia – the country whose past has been influenced by Czarist Russia, the WW II and 50 years of the Soviet occupation. With the help of modern multimedia, the Seaplane Harbour tells exciting stories about the Estonian maritime and military history promising a sea of excitement to the whole family.
The submarine Lembit is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in England in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the WWII under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the world still in use until it was hauled ashore last year.
Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology. The submarine’s interior is fully restored providing museum visitors with an extraordinary opportunity to go on board and experience Lembit as it was in its heyday.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-WWII seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Tallinn Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the Short Type 184 aircraft in the world.
The museum’s guests can also take a trip on the Seaplane Harbour’s simulators: to enjoy a flight above Tallinn, go on an around-the-world journey in the Yellow Submarine, or navigate on the Gulf of Tallinn.
The Seaplane Harbour’s main exhibits are displayed in hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the world’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s. The hangars have also served as a summer resort to the Estonian air force unit and as a closed military base to the Soviet Army.
The construction of the Seaplane Harbour has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund’s programme for development of cultural and tourism objects of national importance.
Source: Estonian Review and museum page
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