Sailing Ships. Great Stories of the Sea

Sailing Ships. Great Stories of the Sea
7 July – 16 September 2018
Daily from 6 to 11 pm
Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation
Piazza Guerrazzi 32, Cecina (LI)
Free admission

For an epic season spanning five centuries, ocean voyages with increasingly sophisticated sailing ships have helped redraw the understanding of the known world. From the 15th to the 19th centuries the sea was the main theatre of explorations, wars of supremacy, cultural and commercial exchanges that altered the perception of space and distance, offering man new opportunities to come to grips with the unknown and the exotic. The exhibition Sailing Ships. Great Stories of the Sea, organized by the Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation, aims to give an insight into the golden age of sailing through models of famous ships, accompanied by dioramas, reconstructions, scientific instruments and objects related to navigation.

From the Portuguese explorations of the African coasts, which paved the way for the routes towards India through the Cape of Good Hope, to the «accidental» Spanish discovery of America; from the expeditions that charted the coasts of Oceania to those that finally broke through the impenetrable North-West Passage: the first section of the exhibition will be dedicated to ships that explored the globe, painstakingly adding one segment at a time to the coastlines charted on the maps and opening the eyes of Europe on new peoples, customs, animals, plants, and goods. Another section will focus on the balance of power between the European states engaged in maritime enterprises, through the display of models not only of increasingly deadly and powerful warships, but also of imposing flagships, richly decorated to externally demonstrate the power of the fleets and their home countries. Conflicts at sea did not always lead to open battles; sometimes they were confined to holding back the enemy through privateering raids, not entirely dissimilar to pirate attacks. One part of the exhibition will therefore deal with privateering and piracy. Also on show will be sailing ships used for trade – the main reason behind most early explorations –, which shortened the distance between faraway places and supplied markets with highly requested, valuable exotic goods.

From 7 July to 16 September, in the exhibition hall of the Geiger Foundation, Piazza Guerrazzi 32, the story will be told of the enterprises of Christopher Columbus’s Santa María, the first to touch the American coast, Admiral Nelson’s Victory, which fought in the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as the Golden Hind captained by privateer Francis Drake, the brig-sloop Beagle, on which Charles Darwin travelled and completed the studies that would lay the foundations of modern biology, the clipper Cutty Sark, which shuttled between London and Melbourne for the wool trade and was able to compete in speed with steamers, and many other famous ships. Thanks to the collaboration with model makers, associations and private collections, the exhibition path takes visitors to the golden age of sailing and tells them about masterpieces of nautical engineering and intrepid sailors who faced the risk of the unknown and endured storms as well as the terrible living conditions and dangers of navigation in order to give their contribution to the history of the world.

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Catalog Sailing Ships