Gdansk, on the eastern Baltic coastline of Poland has been known as the 'Amber City' for many centuries, and so it is appropriate that the newly established Museum of Amber is located in this thriving port, formerly an important member of the Hanseatic League, and now, with the recent upturn in its fortunes is still the centre of the Baltic amber industry. More than ten thousand artisans and craftsmen are currently employed in the city and vicinity, designing and fashioning unique amber jewellery and works of art, utilising the several hundreds of different colours and densities of naturally occurring Baltic amber and incorporating a long-standing tradition and expertise in the use of Sterling silver to produce beautiful and unique amber necklaces, rings, brooches and earrings.

 

Amber Museum GdanskBased in the Barbican Tower in the Old City, and utilising all parts of the building, this superb museum has six floors of permanent displays and touring exhibitions, exploring and explaining every aspect of Baltic amber, from its earliest discovery and use as a magical totem and good-luck charm, to its harvesting and exploitation, its fascinating history of being traded over long distances, and now, its role in modern art, usually represented as quite stark, yet striking, minimalist jewellery featuring Sterling silver and other metals...all displayed to best effect using modern lighting and audio-visual techniques – one of the unique properties of Baltic amber is the way in which it captures, reflects and refracts light, in particular sunlight.

 

Amber, although classified as a gemstone, is not actually a mineral, it's the fossilised resin which was secreted from trees which, in the case of Baltic amber, were living over fifty million years ago. Although found in places all over the world, eighty percent of the world's amber is actually Baltic Amber.

 

Affectionately known as the 'Golden Teardrop of the Baltic', because in its raw, unworked state Baltic amber often appears as tear-shaped stones, Baltic amber only received its own dedicated museum a few years ago when the city was first opened up as an international tourist destination. The museum, managed as a part of the 'Historical Museum of the City of Gdansk' opened in 2006 and some of the first exhibits put on display were specially commissioned pieces by some of the leading artists working with Baltic amber in Europe, including the well-renowned, yet unfortunately recently deceased Elena Gradinarova from just across the Polish border in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, another city often associated with Baltic amber, who worked for several years on the re-construction of the famous 'Amber Room' situated in a royal palace just outside of St. Petersburg, the former Russian capital.

 

Although highly recommended as a place to visit and spend a few hours wondering through the many and varied rooms and exhibitions featuring all aspects of the story of Baltic amber, the Museum of Amber is not really suited for disabled, infirm or elderly persons due to its steep stairs needed to reach all six floors...after all, it is situated in a mediaeval building which was part of the city's walled defences.

Museum's website