Popular Science Monthly/Volume 76/February 1910/A Great Marine Museum
|A GREAT MARINE MUSEUM|
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
A LOGICAL and characteristic expression of the national spirit of modern Germany is to be found in the Institut für Meereskunde which was established in 1900 in connection with the Königliche Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität at Berlin. The rise of Germany as a maritime power has found popular demonstration in the Marine Expositions at Berlin in the winter of 1897-1898 and again in the summer of 1908. The first exposition led to the beginning of a permanent marine museum and the second contributed greatly to its expansion. In 1898 the German Naval Bureau together with the Prussian Cultus Ministerium undertook the establishment of an oceanographical institute in conjunction with some Prussian university, plans for which were drawn up by Professors E. v. Drygalski and E. v. Halle with the later assistance of Freiherr v. Richthofen. The enterprise had from the beginning the deep personal interest and cooperation of the German Emperor. It finally took the form of the Institut für Meereskunde of which Professor Albrecht Penck is director.
In 1906 the Museum für Meereskunde connected with the Institut für Meereskunde was opened in the building on Georgenstrasse, formerly occupied by the chemical laboratory of the university. The purpose of the museum has been stated by its director to be "to inspire and to diffuse far and wide in the German nation by means of its exhibits a conception and understanding of the sea and its phenomena, the means employed in its exploration, the wealth of its life, and its economic value, as well as the social and national significance of navigation, marine commerce and sea power." "Deutschland zur See" is its motto!
This end has been sought by the almost lavish installation of exhibits which reveal everywhere the combination of technical skill and broad scientific knowledge and direction, together with a remarkable freedom from conventional methods in design and execution of the displays.The exhibits are found on the two lower floors of the building and offices, library and laboratories are on the third floor. The whole of the first floor and part of the basement are given up to a most varied and elaborate display of the German naval and marine interests along historical, structural and mechanical lines. The second floor contains
the exhibits of harbor construction, light houses and life-saving equipment, and the scientific departments of special interest to those concerned in marine investigations.The first of these is the collection of nautical and oceanographic instruments and the oceanographic exhibit. The collection of charts, compasses, sextants, chronometers, clinometers and ship's logs is extensive. In adjacent rooms, 3 to 6, are to be found a most excellent and an almost historically complete collection of the instruments devised for deep-sea exploration. Sounding leads, pressure tubes and bottom samplers from the time of the expeditions of the Challenger (1873-1874)
and the Gazelle (1874-1876) down to all the varied patterns from the ships of the cable construction companies and recent deep-sea expeditions, are here displayed together with sounding wires, cables, and weights, sounding machines of various types—Thomson, Lucas, Sigsbee, LeBlanc and others—exhibited either by photographs and diagrams, or as actual instruments. There is also a display of typical bottom samples as collected by the merchant marine.
The study of the physical and chemical conditions in the sea is elucidated by a unique collection of instruments. Pressure and reversing thermometers of the Six, Chabaud, Miller-Casella, Negretti-Zambra, Knudsen, Richter and other types are shown, together with instructive exhibits of the effects of pressure at great depths in the sea in crushing thermometers. Scales for recording the color of the sea water and apparatus for determining its transparency are exhibited near the windows of the room. The apparatus used in determining specific gravity and salinity is also found here; self-closing water samplers of the Meyer, Sigsbee and Petterssen-Nansen patterns for bringing up water from any desired depth without contamination from other levels, areometers, pycnometers and apparatus for chlorine (Knudsen) and gas (Fox) analysis.
In an adjacent room are meteorological instruments together with an exhibit of hydrographical instruments such as drift bottles, wave meters, tidal registers and current meters of Aime-Irminger, Massee, Arwidson, Nansen, Ekman, Petterssen bifilar and other patterns for submarine exploration.
The collection of biological gear and tackle is much less complete and less advantageously displayed. There are samples of dredges, tangles, trawls, tow-nets, plankton nets, plankton nets of the Hensen, closing-net of Nansen and young-fish net of the Helgoland pattern.
The oceanographical exhibit in rooms 8 and 9 is original in design and execution and contains unique and instructive displays designed to facilitate by comparative methods the quick and easy comprehension of the fundamental facts of oceanography. Marble blocks are used to represent the relative volumes of the globe, the sea, the land above sea-level, and in the continental blocks (above 2,300 m. below sea-level). In a similar way their relative weights and those of the atmosphere and of the dissolved salt in the sea are shown, as are also the quantity of salt and the proportions of the various substances dissolved in sea water. A very striking illustration of the quantity of salt in the sea is shown by a comparison, to scale, of the thickness of the crust left on the sea bottom on evaporation of the sea, with a model of the royal castle at Berlin to the same scale. The relative elevation of the continents and depths of the seas are shown by plastic reliefs. Models of a transatlantic liner on columns of blue glass bring in vivid contrast the conditions as to depth in the North Sea, the Atlantic and the greatest known ocean depths. Movable mechanisms illustrate wave motion, while the effect of breakers on steep and flat coast line is shown by photographs and examples of erosion.
The biological exhibits are striking in their design and educative in purpose. There is little attempt at a systematic exhibit of marine
forms, the whole of the selection and grouping of the collections being subordinated entirely to securing a representation, as nearly normal as possible, under the limitation of space and conditions of the material, of the characteristic assemblages of marine animals and plants. Numerous tanks of considerable size contain displays of faunal types, in alcohol or formalin, in natural groupings and environmental effects. Dried collections and the taxidermist's art are also used in larger exhibits, as, for example, in a most excellent portrayal of a coral reef from the Red Sea. Ten small "alcoholaria" give vivid pictures with much of the original color preserved, of the minor types of faunal assemblages about a coral reef, such as the sea urchins and sea roses (Crambactis) with symbiotic fish (Amphiprion); giant mussels (Tridacna), corals and parrot fish; the madrepore area; the rock fauna; the regions of dying and of dead corals and the plant life of coral reefs. In like spirit and perfection of technique are displayed the fauna of the Antarctic icebergs, the sponge beds of the Ægean Sea, the fishing grounds off , the pelagic world, the sandy grounds, the rock pools, oyster beds, limestone cliffs and the fishing banks of the North Sea.
The ecological interrelations of the marine fauna are suggested by exhibits of the food of well-known fish. The economic values and uses of the products of the sea are concretely illustrated in striking manner by transparencies, and by exhibits of the crude materials and various
stages in their manufacture into the finished products of art or industry.
The fisheries section is rich in well-displayed exhibits of most of devices known to man from the earliest times to the present, for the winning from the sea its rich booty; examples of gear and tackle, photographs, transparencies and oil paintings of their use, models showing boats and fishery gear in action, and the homes of fisher folk.
The wonderfully rich and exceedingly varied exhibits of this museum, centered as they are around the idea of the utilization of the sea, that least-known and last-to-be-conquered part of the globe, give even to the museum-weary traveler a new and inspiring conception of the magnitude and diversity of the resources of the sea and the complexity and attractiveness of the national, commercial, industrial and scientific problems connected therewith.
That the museum has accomplished its purpose in stimulating popular interest and enthusiasm in marine matters is attested not only by recent German political history but also by the 100,000 persons who thronged its rooms in the first year it was opened to the public and in the interested groups of visitors who still frequent its halls. The exhibits are free to the public, special days are reserved for classes, photographing and sketching are encouraged, and popular lectures are given on subjects allied to the purposes of the museum, for which a very extensive collection of lantern slides has been made.
The publications of the museum include, in addition to the illustrated guides, a popular series of "Meereskunde, Sammlung volkstümlicher Vorträge zum Verstandnis der nationalen Bedeutung von Meer und Seewesen," twelve parts yearly from 1897 and a more formally scientific series "Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Meereskunde und des Geographischen Instituts an der Universität Berlin."