The Vistula in the History of Poland
The primary goal of the exhibition is to show the visitors a wide range of issues related to the Vistula, hence a variety of exhibits displayed. The first part of the exhibition presents the earliest information about the Vistula, the characteristic features of the Vistula and its basin, the evolution of settlement, the history of Pomerania, and river law. The main part of the exhibition presents mostly the history of grain and timber rafting in its Golden Age (16th-17th centuries) and its most significant elements: the description of the Vistula topography and its significance for navigation, the Vistula trade and rafted goods, types of river craft and boatbuilding, boat crews, obstacles and threats to navigation – both natural and caused by man, river ports (with particular attention to the significance of Gdańsk as the main destination), and finally – coming back home. The narration of this part of the exhibition is based on one of the most important source documents describing grain and timber rafting down the Vistula to Gdańsk – the poem by Sebastian Fabian Klonowic Flis to jest... (A Rafting Is…), first published in 1595, with the second corrected edition in 1598.
Apart from the descriptions of individual issues inspired by the poem and rich iconographic material there are also interesting original artefacts there to admire: everyday items excavated at archaeological sites in Pomerania, weights and measures used in the Vistula trade, traditional tools displayed in a replica of a boatbuilding workshop, some valuable paintings, models of traditional vessels navigating on the Vistula and mockups (including movable ones). Interactive "look in and check" stands will make it possible for the visitors to learn the features of the three segments of the Vistula and what the raftsmen used to eat. Multimedia presentations show artefacts retrieved from the wreck of the Copper Ship (sunk while leaving the port of Gdańsk at the beginning of the 15th century) that were once goods largely transported down the Polish rivers, and what the Vistula individual landscape features described by Klonowic look like today (who knows what a wiślisko or wart look like?). Presentations in multimedia kiosks will enable you to become a skipper for a while and decide which river to take and which destination to choose for your ship; you can also find out what the "price of inexperience" ritual was, or what the words ankernagiel and ferdeka mean.