From a geographic perspective, Europe is a maritime continent. In terms of length of coastline relative to its overall size, Europe is the most sea-bound of all the five continents. Nevertheless, Central and Eastern Europe in particular can often seem very remote from the sea. At first glance, the sea for many nations only plays a role in the daily lives of those who live on the coast, or as a holiday destination.
How fundamental the sea has been in shaping Europe’s development, and the role it continues to play right up to the present day, will be highlighted from June 2018 in a new special exhibition entitled Europe and the Sea. The exhibition investigates the sea’s significance as a space in which Europeans ruled and traded, as a bridge and border, a resource, and a place of imagination and memory. Using 13 distinct themes, each assigned a European seaport to serve as an example, the display encompasses a historical range spanning from antiquity through to the immediate present. This in turn demonstrates how mastery of the seas over the centuries has represented a significant component of European power politics. Today, the role of the sea as a bridge and border is once again of urgent relevance: millions of people fleeing war, terror, and poverty are setting off for Europe. However, other factors such as the use and exploitation of the oceans’ resources concern us more than ever, and will in the future play a significant role for the environment and global climate.
An exhibition by the Deutsches Historisches Museum in partnership with the Jean Monnet Chair for European History at the University of Cologne