National Maritime Museum to open mid-May

DISPLAYS … The museum houses thousands of an- tiques, art displays and skeletal remains of sharks, a state- of-the-art gym, a restaurant and an auditorium. Photo: Kelvin Chiringa

The Lüderitz Waterfront Development Company (LWDC) says preparations are on course for the official opening of the N$450 million National Maritime Museum at Lüderitz, in May.

One of the largest in Africa, the museum has three floors facing the Atlantic Ocean and was constructed with contributions from various ministries, with the education ministry contributing over N$27 million.

The LWDC invited The Namibian and the Ministry of Education for a recent tour, facilitated by the company’s chief executive Fluksman Samuehl and chairperson Angel Tordesillas.

The museum has opened its doors to companies like Hyphen Hydrogen Energy and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), both of which have already opened their offices.

“Nust is not yet clear with what they want to do with some of the big space we have provided. But we have seen a major change … with the new vice chancellor, in terms of facilities and the courses they want to offer, yet we are really putting pressure on them because we do not want some of the space allocated to them to stay empty,” said Fluksman.

Fluksman and Tordesillas took education executive director Sanet Steenkamp on an inspection tour of the facility a week ago.

The project was presented to founding president Sam Nujoma in 2017, while it was still at the infancy stage, and now nearly complete, it has become the largest construction work done in a Namibian town.

The museum, to be renamed the Namibia Maritime Museum, houses a treasure trove of thousands of antiques, art displays and skeletal remains of sharks, a state-of-the-art gym, a restaurant and an auditorium.

The gym is open for membership from the public, with provision made for tourists staying at Lüderitz for short periods.

Some of the collections and attractive medallions inside its library date back as far as the 16th Century and have been shipped in from countries like Spain.

“You know how much one of these medallions here can cost? About 300 euros. One piece. More will be coming when we have a room for them. An exclusive room only for those doing research,” said Tordesillas.

The museum library carries a collection of hundreds of books and stamps on the history of navigation and vessels from around the world.

“It’s a fantastic space. It works very well, even for team-building projects and even with our gym trainers and there are several groups that are coming here as well,” said Fluksman.

The museum hosted prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her former deputy Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, ahead of its inaugural opening. It has also seen visits from Emma Kantema-Gaomas and a host of Miss Namibia contestants.

Tordesillas, who was among the first in the town and in Namibia to build a post-independence thriving fisheries sector through Novanam and Pescanova, said the museum is one of the largest in the region.

He said it will serve as a major marine research centre, both for seamen and students of higher education from all over the country.

“For a very long time, men have been living with their backs turned to the ocean. This museum is now an attempt to bring man back to the ocean and understand the world underwater. This is one of the biggest maritime museums, even when compared with some in South Africa,” he said.

The museum itself is built from the old Lüderitz Power Station, where electricity and desalinated water were produced in the late 1970s.

The original steel frame comprised 12 bays and was shipped from Germany in 1911 by the Koloniale Bergbau-Gesesllshaft and was extended in 1913 due to demand in electricity.

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