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The Marine Station in Gdynia – a step away from its new role

The Emigration Museum in Gdynia, which has actively operated in the public space for two years, is just a step away from entering its future home.The construction works in the Marine Station have been completed and, after 70 years, the building again delights the eyes of the citizens of Gdynia with its harmonious body.The most representative building in Gdynia – in the 1930s, the symbol of a country deserving its presence by the Baltic Sea – has not only been restored, but has also adapted to the needs of a modern, multifunctional institution of culture.We are only moments away from the launch of the final stage of this project – the creation of the permanent exhibition.Under the meaningful address of Gdynia, Polska Street 1, the only Emigration Museum in the country will open its doors in the first half of 2015.

The moment the 292 meter longcruise liner MSC Orchestra moors right outside the Marine Station in the port of Gdynia,

Professor Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, together with Mr. Wojciech Szczurek, President of Gdynia, and Mrs. Karolina Grabowicz-Matyjas, Director of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, will present the restored interiors of this historical building for the first time.Despite the edifice still being inaccessible to visitors, it has already transformed the panorama of the pier where the biggest cruise liners in the world moor today.From the very beginning of its existence, this edifice has been associated with traveling – the Station, built in 1933, had facilitated passenger traffic for many years and it was here that hundreds of thousands of people departed into the world.Many domestic and international routes crossed here, legendary Polish ocean liners, such as M/S Batory, moored here.Together, the emigration history of Gdynia, the portside location and the monumental edifice of the Marine Station, bring the perfect framework for an institution with the ambition of awarding the history of Polish emigration the right place in national consciousness.

The Marine Station was severely damaged during World War 2 – the North-Western part of the building suffered as a result of air raids.The edifice was scarred with a characteristic asymmetry for the next 70 years.During the postwar reality, the Station regained its previous role, but the passenger traffic was not as dynamic as before.1988 marked the end of an era – that is when "Stefan Batory" embarked on its last journey.Two years later, the building was included in the register of historic monuments.

The reconstruction and adaptation works at the Marine Station and its adjacent Transit Warehouse have been underway since May 2013 and were conducted according to the design by ae fusion Studio from Cracow, which assumed the reconstruction according to the original 1933 blueprints together with the missing North-Western corner, as well as the adaptation of the historical building to its completely new role.The façade facing the water has been remodeled – the original brick wall has been replaced by a sheet of glass, giving this 80-year-old building a modern and "lighter" look.The steel scaffold of the original viewpoint – the glazed tunnel exiting the Transit Warehouse - has been erected as well.This footbridge forms an architectonic and symbolic reference to the historical gangway, which passengers leaving the Station used to board ships. The dialogue with the past is further reinforced by returning the original Polish symbols to the façade and the interiors – the bass reliefs of Polish eagles which were torn down during the war have returned to the front façade.

The restoration works – carried out under the watchful eye of the regional conservator-restorer – also included the reconstruction and the revaluation of all the details according to their original appearance.Among others, it related to door woodwork, balustrades, Argand lamps, mosaic floors and – above all – skylights, which uniquely adorn the icon of the modernism of Gdynia.The deadline for this undertaking proved to be quite a challenge as not only did it included the reconstruction of a historical building, but also the assurance of a modern technical infrastructure for the needs of a multimedia exhibition.In order to assure the proper conditions, a special architecture dedicated specifically to the exposition was created inside the Transit Warehouse, adjacent to the Marine Station.Now, with that being complete, the tender for the creation of the exhibition itself has been announced.Its completion – planned for the first half of 2015 – will enable the Emigration Museum in Gdynia to open its doors to visitors.

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