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Port of Rotterdam: Unique Nautical Museum and Library (1922)

THERE is something very misleading to strangers in the title of the National Technical and Nautical Museum in Rotterdam. It is not a museum at all, but the center of all those forces that go to develop the scientific, technical and commercial sides of the Dutch shipping industry.

Shipping interests in Rotterdam are more intense and more varied than those in any other European port. There are no less than one hundred and six separate shipbuilding and repairing yards, and vessels from all corners of the world use the very up-to-date facilities for docking and cargo handling offered by the port.

The center of shipping interests is in the hands of J. W. J. Baron van Haersolte, the director of the museum. The first factor in its success Is the versatility of its director, who keeps the collection of models and processes and engines right up to date. He also organizes an extensive library, with the current shipping and technical literature and newspapers of Europe, arranges lectures and meetings of the various shipping associations In the port.

Demonstrations of new inventions for shipping and engineering are given at the museum, and Baron van Haerisolte is now arranging a scheme of lectures for the nautical training centers in Holland, of which there are about ten.

Most of the shipping men of Rotterdam support the museum because of its technical value, and on account of the practical facts on all branches of shipping that may be gathered from the Information bureau, which deals with current commercial inquiries, The library, which Is right up to date in nautical science, may be used by foreigners, postage on books only is charged, and a full catalogue may be obtained on application to the director.

A very fine collection of cinema films illustrates the lectures given in the lecture hall, and these deal with shipbuilding and engineering. For this purpose the lecture room is fitted with a modern cinema apparatus, which can be stopped at will by the lecturer for purposes of explanation, and, thanks to a clever Dutch invention, without any danger of the film catching fire.

There were three objects in view when the museum was planned:

  1. To awaken in the mind of the general public an interest in everything connected with shipping and shipbuilding;
  2. To give those in the trade as shipbuilders, owners, ships' officers, draughtsmen, engineers and mechanics an opportunity of studying all the newest advances in science and industry belonging to their business, and,
  3. To be of assistance to apprentices who might find in the museum an aid to their studies and education.

Source: Shipping: Marine Transportation, Construction, Equipment and Supplies, New York: Shipping Publishing Co, Volume 15, No. 2, January 25, 1922 p47

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