Touring Ålands Maritime Museums, Part 3: Lasses Sjöfartsmuseum

Touring Ålands Maritime Museums, Part 3: Lasses Sjöfartsmuseum

by Kalle Id

Join MaritimeMatters’ Kalle Id for the third and final installment on his tour of the maritime museums of Åland, this time visiting the Lars-Erik (”Lasse”) Eriksson’s fantastic private museum on the island of Värdö.

Kalle Id’s photo blog: kships.blogspot.com

All photographs are copyright © 2014 Kalle Id.

Monday, 9 June 2014

When I learned that the final stop in the itinerary arranged by the Ship Historical Society of Finland and the Maritime Historical Society of Finland for Åland was the museum of a private individual, I mentally pictured a single room in someone’s house, with an impressive but not extraordinary collection of memorabilia.

]The facade of Lasse Eriksson's maritime museum, complete with lifesavers and genuine funnel symbols from a Viking Line ferry and a Rederi Ab Gustaf Erikson reefer.
]The facade of Lasse Eriksson’s maritime museum, complete with lifesavers and genuine funnel symbols from a Viking Line ferry and a Rederi Ab Gustaf Erikson reefer.

I could not have been more wrong. Lars-Erik (alias Lasse) Eriksson has a frankly incredible collection of material from motor-driven ships from the early 20th century onwards. As a former machine chief on various Ålandian ships, he has also been in a position to acquire material that is not always available to the general public. What makes a tour of the museum even better is the fact that Lasse himself is the guide – and he seems to have something interesting to say of just about every object he has collected.

The justifiably proud museum owner and a part of his collection. Even the writing table on the right was originally owned by an Ålandian ship owner.
The justifiably proud museum owner and a part of his collection. Even the writing table on the right was originally owned by an Ålandian ship owner.

Lasse’s museum is identifiable from afar by the fact that the facade museum building – yes, a separate building – has the funnel symbol of Viking Line attached on the outer wall. And it’s not a replica, but rather the real thing from the Mariehamn-Kapellskär ferry ÅLANDSFÄRJAN (ex-KATTEGATT, NF TIGER, today sailing as the acrtic cruise ship EXPEDITION).

The room dedicated to the technical side of seafaring is housed below the Gustaf Erikson funnel symbol.
The room dedicated to the technical side of seafaring is housed below the Gustaf Erikson funnel symbol.

The first room shown to us by Lasse was on the south side of the museum (below another genuine funnel symbol, this time from a ship of Rederi Ab Gustaf Erikson), dedicated to various machine parts. I’ll be the first one to admit I know next to nothing about this side of seafaring, being more about what it’s like for passengers to be onboard – but Lasse managed to make it interesting even so.

Original chairs from the SS VIKING, built in 1924 as the Southern Railways cross-channel ferry DINARD.
Original chairs from the SS VIKING, built in 1924 as the Southern Railways cross-channel ferry DINARD.

The real ‘beef’ of the museum, at least if you ask me, are the two main rooms in the middle of the museum building. It’s a close-to-impossible task to describe everything that there was to see here. And not just to see; when Lasse pointed out a pair of original chairs from the VIKING (originally the 1924-built cross-Channel packet steamer DINARD), the first ferry in traffic from southern Finland to Sweden, our first reaction was naturally “oh, we musn’t touch them, then” – to which Lasse replied “oh, you can sit on them if you want to”. (We didn’t).

A poignant exhibit: molten glasses salvaged from onboard the Finnish-market cruise ship SALLY ALBATROSS after she suffered a devastating fire while at drydock in Nacka (near Stockholm) in 1990.
A poignant exhibit: molten glasses salvaged from onboard the Finnish-market cruise ship SALLY ALBATROSS after she suffered a devastating fire while at drydock in Nacka (near Stockholm) in 1990.

On the other side of the ferry timeline, there are wall panels and chairs from the 1989-built CINDERELLA, which today still sails between Sweden and Åland as the VIKING CINDERELLA, but with a largely rebuilt interior. From chairs, Lasse’s collection goes down to ferry company match boxes – stopping at paintings, brochures, caps and uniforms along the way. Not to even mention literature – so many books and magazines that I wouldn’t even know where to start, had I chance to spend time reading there.

Pennants...
Pennants…
...match boxes...
…match boxes…
..uniforms and books. So many books.
..uniforms and books. So many books.

While the emphasis in Lasse’s collection is firmly on ships that have sailed on the waters surrounding the Åland Islands, there is also material from further afield, such as original signage from the Greek liner OLYMPIA – as it happens, Lasse worked on her when she became the Finnish-owned US market cruise ship CARIBE I.

On top of the frankly overwhelming collection, how many museum tours end with the coffee and cinammon buns offered by the owner of the museum? Because that was how our visit to Lasse’s museum ended.

While propeller blades on dry land are surprisingly common in Åland, not that many people have one on their front yard. Lasse does.
While propeller blades on dry land are surprisingly common in Åland, not that many people have one on their front yard. Lasse does.
Lasse's cat was less than impressed by my attempts of photographing her.
Lasse’s cat was less than impressed by my attempts of photographing her.

Lasses Sjöfartsmuseum is open on Wednesday evenings in June-July, and at other times by appointment.

End of Touring Ålands Maritime Museums, Part 3: Lasses Sjöfartsmuseum

Special thanks to Lasse Eriksson, Rami Wirrankoski, Hannu Hillo and Matti Pietikäinen.

Kalle Id

Kalle Id

Kalle Id, MaritimeMatters' Helsinki correspondent, is a Finnish maritime historian, photographer and journalist, with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Helsinki. His early-age exposure to ferry travel led to a lifetime fascination with passenger ships, both the cruise ferries of his home waters and the cruise ships and ferries of further afield. Kalle maintains his own ship photography blog at kships.blogspot.com. Contrary to the popular belief, he writes under his real name.
Kalle Id

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