…is the Sea Findings Museum in Vilchadia, on Kalymnos.* Vilchadia is a ten minute taxi ride from Pothia, the main port of Kalymnos, and it’s very easy to find the Sea Findings Museum because there isn’t anything else there (bar two tavernas, run by the museum curators, and a very nice family beach). The museum’s concept is very simple: it’s a private collection of stuff found in the sea – sponges, amphorae, shells, weird fish, archaelogical knicknacks, an entire Byzantine trading boat…

The reasons it’s such a great museum are:

1. Because it’s a private collection, the government in Athens can’t get its hands on the best bits (this is why the ‘official’ museums in most Greek island towns are lame).

2. There is some mad shit to be found in the sea.**

3. Again because it’s an amateur collection the ossified rules of How To Do Museums are COMPLETELY OVERTURNED – each case is like a junk shop cupboard, hugely overstuffed. The convention of giving exhibits space and labelling them carefully is ignored: the area set aside for shells has hundreds, maybe thousands, of shells, all squeezed in and barely labelled. One fish will have a paragraph of explanation, another the simple label “Hedgehog Of The Sea”. The effect is mostly of huge thrill-power overload, the riches of the deep coming at you ALL AT ONCE. In one extraordinary exhibit though there is a huge case – big enough to fit the entire Byzantine boat – which is completely full of amphorae. The boat has been packed with amphorae and then you step back and realise that the ‘sea bed’ it rests on is also made entirely of old jars. The message seems to be a loud “FUCK YOU” to the pro museums with their endless series of exquisitely preserved and separated stoneware – ‘these things are totally common dudes! And not that interesting!’ (Displaying amphorae in bulk also restores to them their FUNCTION – focussing on the nice paintings on them is the archaeological equivalent of collecting beermats, after all.)

*the Best Museum In The World is the Moomin Museum in Tampere City Library, Finland, as all Brown Wedge readers know.

**this point requires slight expansion. There was an enormous sponge which had been shaped into a chair, several monstrous fish and crabs, and a ‘Syrian God’ which looked exactly like Bok off Doctor Who.