The Museum was founded in 1968 as a Museum of shipping history. The SchifffahrtsMuseumRostock is divided in two branches. The main branch, exhibiting the history of shipping, is housed in a 19th century building in the centre of Rostock.
The second branch is situated in an old merchant ship, built in the 1950s in Rostock. There, the history of shipbuilding through the centuries is exhibited. The SchifffahrtsMuseumRostock,is especially proud of its large collection of "captain's pictures", detailed portraits of ships, painted for their captains in various techniques, including water-colours, oil, and even executed in silk embroidery. The Museum's work is not only concentrated on organising exhibitions, but also scientific research and the exchange of these results.