Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Vasa Museum

Last year when the Whites (Nathan's sister and family) took a cruise around northern Europe, they had a stop in Stockholm for a day and chose among other things to spend some hours at the Vasa Museum. Apparently this impressed them quite a bit, they were still talking about their visit when they came to see us this year.
So, we decided it might be something our kids would appreciate too, and man were we right! It was a fantastic morning, probably the favourite bit of our Stockholm trip for all of us!
We hit a bit of a queue getting in since it seemed like all the buses from all the cruise ships arrived at the same time as us! It looked worse than it was though, we got in pretty quickly, and the museum itself being so spacious swallowed the masses nicely and it didn't feel crowded at all.

Of course I know the basic story of the Vasa ship that sank on it's maiden voyage years and years ago, but I certainly wasn't familiar with the full story. So we went straight for one of the guided tours in English, and got a girl with a very posh British accent telling us all about the ship. The tour took about 25 minutes and was really informative, even the kids were totally spellbound by all the exciting stories!

The museum is really well designed, there is a lot off different exhibitions set up around the ship telling of Vasa and her times. All of them have explanations in both Swedish and English of course.
One of the more interesting parts for the kids was the full-scale model of the upper gun deck, that you could climb in to. Here's Lucas pretending to steer the ship:

To the left you can see the 1:10 scale model of the fully rigged Vasa ship with sails set. Quite impressive even in this smaller version!

Another really interesting part was the exhibitions about how Vasa managed to remain so intact (it's 95% original!) for all these years under the water, about how she was found, explored by divers and finally salvaged in 1961 (after 333 years under the sea!); and about the work the scientists do now preserving the Vasa and how they are planning for the future.
The Vasa Museum has the biggest AC system in the world, to keep the temperature constantly at 19-20 degrees and the humidity at 55%.

You could also learn about Sweden and science in the early 17th century, about life onboard the ship, naval warfare and how it might have been if Vasa had been able to actually flex her muscles. In 1628 Vasa was potentially the world's mightiest ship.

Here's another model, showing the sinking. Vasa actually only sailed for 20 minutes, before she got hit by a couple of gusts of wind, turned on her side and sank - also in only 20 minutes!
She only made it 1300 m out to the southernmost point of Djurgården, right outside where now Grona Lund is located.

We also went down into the basement, to get "face to face" with the people who died in the sinking. This exhibition told interesting stories, all based on the examination of the skeletons that were found when Vasa was raised. A little bit spooky, but rather interesting.

We decided to stay at the Vasa Museum for lunch. It was lovely sunny weather so we sat outside and enjoyed our pancakes and sandwiches!

After ending with a visit to the Museum Shop, and browsing through the wide range of fascinating goods on sale we settled on a children's book about the Vasa, a pig for Linnea (the main character of the book), and a lion for Lucas - King Gustav II Adolf who commissioned the Vasa, was known as the Lion of the North.

Such a great morning!
If you ever visit Stockholm, don't miss the Vasa Museum! It's an experience that has nothing to do with stuffy old museums, a definite must for big and small!
You won't help but be impressed.

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