Journey of Discovery is Vikingaheimar’s permanent exhibition, housed on the second floor. Through artifacts, maps, audio-visual displays, and models, it tells the story of the Viking expansion across the North Atlantic. Begun at about the same time as Viking raids, this is a far less well-known aspect of the Viking Age. Viking ships carried tens of thousands of men, women, children and animals from their homes in Scandinavia and the British Isles across the North Atlantic. Settling the Faeroes, Iceland, and southern Greenland, these Vikings (or Norse, as they are also called) created lasting societies, changed the landscape, and had to learn to adapt. From Greenland, a few hearty explorers pushed on past the horizon, reaching the shores of North America, and meeting Native Americans, 500 years before Columbus. The wonder of their journey was recorded in the Icelandic sagas, confirmed by archaeology, and relived by Captain Eggertsson. Our main exhibition reveals details about each stop along the way.
The lower floor currently hosts Winds of Change. It discusses the central role the Viking ship played in the drastic upheaval that was the Viking Age. Able to sail deep up the rivers of Europe, Vikings fanned out across Europe, raiding and trading as the occasion merited. Back home in Scandinavia, Viking chieftains made wealthy by these exploits would be buried with their worldly goods, including in some cases their ships! With objects on loan from Statens Historiska Museum, Sweden, the Viking Ship Museum, Norway, and Lindisfarne Priory, England, this exhibition will be shown until May 2011.
Many of the components currently on view were originally produced by the Smithsonian Institution for the millennium exhibition Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. We thank the Smithsonian, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Cultural Ministry of Iceland for making our exhibition possible.
Around the ship, visitors can find displays discussing Captain Gunnar Marel Eggertsson’s unique experience with Islendingur. This includes his technical know-how as a boat builder, and his expertise as the most experienced sailor of Viking ships in the world. Computer monitors strategically located throughout the main hall with 3D graphics and video clips explain just what a marvel of engineering the Viking ship truly is. Displays of photos and memorabilia from Gunnar’s sailing help bring his experience during the summer of 2000 back to life.
We look forward to sharing with you all that can be revealed by delving into the wonder of Viking ships.
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