An Incredible Replica Viking Ship and More at the Viking World Museum
The world’s museums have some great pieces, but few are as impressive as the Viking World’s star attraction — a full-size, completely accurate Viking ship replica. Find out all about this amazing exhibition and other treasures of the Viking World Museum below.
Where can I find it?
The museum is located in Keflavik, a 40-minute drive from Reykjavik. As is appropriate for a museum dedicated primarily to a ship, it's right on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean, at the end of Vikingabraut Street.
What should I see at the museum?
The Viking World’s most famous exhibition is, by far, its painstakingly reproduced replica Viking ship. Named the Icelander (Islendingur), it's an exact replica of a ninth-century ship called the Gokstad, which was discovered and excavated in Norway in 1882. Shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson spent a year and a half building the vessel, using 39,600 pounds of wood and 5,000 nails.
Visitors to the museum will encounter the 74-foot-long ship elevated on pillars to reveal the craftsmanship of the hull, which is made of authentic Scandinavian pine and oak. Visitors can also climb onboard and stand on the deck of the world’s only full-size Viking ship replica.
In fact, it is so authentic that its maker sailed it to New York in the year 2000. Whereas the original ninth-century ship would have had a crew of seventy, including two shifts of rowers on its thirty-two oars, Eggertsson managed with just a nine-person crew. The story of this epic voyage is recorded at the museum.
What else is worth seeing?
The Icelander is certainly a very impressive exhibit, but it’s not the only reason to visit the museum. Also worth a look are four other permanent exhibitions, housed on five floors. Those inspired to learn more about the Vikings after seeing Eggertsson’s staggering ship should also check out the "Vikings of the North Atlantic" exhibition. Created in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, it tells the full story of how the Vikings became the most fearsome force in medieval Europe through artifacts, installations, and more.
Those looking for more may also view the "Settlement of Iceland" exhibit. This brings together some of the oldest artifacts in Iceland, unearthed on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the village of Hafnir. Scientists believe these to be the remains of a homestead from the ninth century, when Iceland was settled for the first time.
Visitors to the Viking World Museum looking for a change of pace after the artifact-heavy exhibitions should pay a visit to the "Fate of the Gods" section. This exhibit brings to life the religion observed by the earliest Icelanders via visual arts, created through a collaboration of contemporary artists and experts in Nordic studies.
Highly recommended, you have to visit yourself to fully appreciate everything this fascinating museum has to offer.