Neraida Floating Museum

On board with history

The Neraida Floating Museum is home to a unique archive and range of exhibits that reveal fascinating stories from Greece’s shipping past

Neraida Floating Museum

The Laurana, a former passenger ferry, was purchased by John S Latsis in 1949. The young shipping Owner routed her on the Argosaronic Gulf line. Launched in 1939 in the then Italian city of Fiume, now modern-day Rijeka in Croatia, the Laurana had plied passenger routes across the Adriatic before being commissioned as a wartime hospital ship and ultimately sold to a Maltese shipping company and returned to service as a ferry connecting Malta and Syracuse, Italy.

Just a few days after her first voyage in the line in 1949, she was renamed Neraida – “fairy” in Greek – following an on-board vote in the presence of the future Greek Prime Minister, Nikolaos Plastiras, politicians and journalists. The boat was reborn and spent the next quarter of a century carrying passengers almost on a daily basis, hosting politicians and celebrities and appearing in Greek and foreign films. Her most frequent route was Piraeus-Aegina-Methana-Poros-Hydra-Hermioni-Spetses, but she also used to visit Leonidion, Monemvasia, Salamina, Nafplion and Epidaurus.

Neraida finally retired in 1974 and remained laid-up at a Latsis-owned shipyard in Elefsis, Attica, until 2007; her owner refused to send his lucky ship for scrap. Following John Latsis’s death in 2003, his family launched an ambitious project to assemble an archive of his life and work. In 2007, the decision was made to convert the vessel into a floating museum showcasing part of this collection. On 9 September of the same year, she was loaded on to the heavy cargo vessel Maria for the voyage to Sibenik in Croatia, where a three-year refit took place. Finally, in April 2010, the vessel returned under her own steam to Elefsis.

THE LEGACY OF JOHN S LATSIS

The Neraida Floating Museum is one of the projects funded by the John S Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. Established in 2005, the Foundation undertakes and supports initiatives in the fields of science, research and culture and Greek social welfare and community development to address crucial needs in Greek society.

Today, the Neraida Floating Museum is a unique space that tells two central stories through numerous photographs, business, personal and public documents, scale models and audiovisual material. The ship’s two main corridors tell the story of the vessel from her launch in 1939 until her refit in 2010. The former passenger lounge serves as the main museum room and it’s here that the business history of Neraida’s Owner, John Latsis, from his birth in 1910 until the mid-1990s, unfolds. In the hall that once served as a dining room, visitors can see a short film introducing the exhibitions; the space can also be used for small-scale events and presentations.

 

 

In the summer of 2013, the vessel raised the Greek flag once more and that September she set sail for the ports of the Argosaronic Gulf, 63 years after first making the voyage. The floating museum remained at every port for two to three days, open for free visits by schoolchildren, locals and tourists. In total, she received approximately 8,000 visitors. From April to July 2014, Neraida was berthed at the Flisvos Marina in Attica for free visits from approximately 14,500 visitors and interactive tours for young children. In September, she visited the port city of Nafplion, Argolis, receiving 4,000 visitors in 17 days.

As a piece of living history, Neraida tells the tale of 20th-century shipping in Greece, evoking the feel of an earlier age and celebrating the man who did so much to develop the industry.
For more information, visit www.neraida.org

 

 

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