The Maritime Centre Vellamo at Kotka is Finland’s national maritime museum, and is the responsibility of the National Board of Antiquities. It opened in 2008 and has a spacious boat hall and an auditorium seating 200 people. Its main exhibition ‘North Star: Southern Cross’ tells the story of seafaring in Finland, explaining the nature of trading by sea, the achievements of explorers, and the history of passenger travel by sea. There is a special emphasis on winter navigation in northern latitudes, together with the work of icebreakers. The museum has extensive archives with 2000 historical maps, more than 30,000 photographs and the database of the Finnish mercantile marine comprising all the ships registered in the country between 1921 and 1983.
Kotka is also the location of a maritime research centre (Merikotka), established in 2005, which brings together experts from Finnish universities and research institutes to focus on sea transport and logistics, maritime safety and the marine environment. Since 2011 the centre holds an annual public event, the Gulf of Finland Village, when visiting research ships are open to the public.