In May 2015, the science centres of the world got a new member. A new and unique science centre was opened in Murmansk, Russia, on board the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin. This science centre focuses on the Arctic Ocean and on the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet.
A special attention is put on presenting the icebreaker Lenin and especially issues that cannot be seen or understood while walking inside the vessel. In the exhibition, the visitor learns about the history of icebreaker: the construction process, the crew, the technology used and its missions.
The exhibition is also presenting the main area of the operations of the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet, the Arctic Ocean. The visitor can learn more about the flora and fauna of Arctic Ocean and also about the sea ice, the main element that the nuclear icebreakers were built to conquer. The exhibition also gives an overview of the icebreaking technology used in the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet with a special attention given to the new icebreakers that are under constructions.
A visit to this science centre is a special experience in various ways. The visitor enters world’s first nuclear icebreaker, which in itself is fascinating and mind-blowing for all senses. The special smell of the vessel and aesthetic of details in both decorations and the installed equipment cannot be found on any other icebreaker. And where else can a visitor look through a window and see the nuclear reactor compartment of the vessel?
It is into this setting that a modern science centre exhibition has been build to present the science and information related to icebreaking and the vessel. This is done through touchscreen interfaces and using modern technology. The science centre exhibition is an extension to a visit on board the icebreaker Lenin, and hopefully will provide the visitors with more information and understanding about why the icebreaking operations in the Arctic were started and why they are still important in today’s global world.
The exhibition is a good example of cross-border cooperation inside the Barents region, in this case between Rosatomflot (Murmansk), Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi) and Polaria (Tromsø). It was Rosatomflot that initiated the project through an invitation to Arctic Centre to participate in the project and to take the role as lead partner. Arctic Centre perceived the invitation as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that also fitted well into the profile of the Arctic Centre’s own science centre and its future strategies. Polaria in Tromsø was also invited to join the project for their special expertise related to the Arctic Ocean.
Arctic Centre took the lead of the project and wrote the project proposal. After second submission, the project was granted 1,2 million euros from the Kolartic ENPI programme. The project was also funded by Rosatomflot through providing their own contribution to the project as well as funding the construction of the exhibition premises on board the icebreaker Lenin. By constructing this new science centre, the project has helped to strengthen the position of the icebreaker Lenin as the main tourist attraction in the Kola region, and also to provide a venue for science communication related to the Arctic.
Text: Ari Laakso, Arctic Centre