Northern Maritime Museum

On the Brugstraat (Bridge Street), one of the major bicycle routes into and out of the center of Groningen, there are two beautifully restored medieval buildings that house the Northern Maritime Museum — “Northern” because Groningen is at the northern end of the Netherlands.

Globes and books

The museum deals with the history of shipbuilding and shipping from the 6th century through the Middle Ages and up to the present. There are numerous attractive displays of model ships, maps, pictures, navigation instruments and ceramics, as well as a film showing what Groningen was like (minus the people) in the year 1470.


Here is a display of ropes with different kinds of splices. This was something of a blast from the past for me because I had learned to make some of these splices when I was a boy scout, but had completely forgotten about them in the meantime.

Course corrector

This course-correcting instrument for use on shipboard was imported from England, where it was patented.

Sextants and a globe

Here is a collection of sextants, ingenious instruments which were used in navigation to determine the position of the ship. (I’m told most ships today still carry sextants as a back-up navigation instrument, in case their GPS system conks out for some reason — is this true?)

My photos in this post are from 2012. I revised the text in 2019.

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