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What is a Maritime Museum?

The New Exhibition of the Maritime Museum of Mozambique was opened in September 2007.

When I came to Mozambique in 2006 to do the Conservation Center Exhibition I noticed that the Maritime Museum had a lot of repetition: bronze and iron canons, boat replicas, buoys, anchors, among other objects.

I was initially going to Duarte one room – the Ming Room – in which I would display the recovered artefacts from a Portuguese shipwreck Espadarte (1558), that sank near the fortress of Saint Sebastian in the Island of Mozambique.

Throughout centuries, fragments of ming porcelain started to appear in the beach. As the only saying goes, the sea returns what we leave there. In the Island of Mozambique that meant glass beads (used for trading with African peoples) and Ming fragments. This would lead to an archaeological underwater expedition that would recover what is now the best collection of Ming Porcelain in African soil and one of the best in the world.

The collection displays the interests of the Emperor Jianjing (1522-1566) and includes human figures and well as designs inspired by nature, magical beasts from local mythology and Taoist drawings.

The Museum was divided in thematic rooms: Structural Elements Room – comprising anchors, lights, and buoys – that allow efficient navigation; Boats Room, where replicas and life-size boats from different civilizations are displayed; Arms Room; Navigation Room and Operation Room.

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