Vikings at Bygdøy

Norwegian minister for culture closes debate. Viking ships remain at Bygdøy.

The ships from Oseberg and Gokstad are some of the most outstanding finds from the Viking Age. However both were excavated more than a 100 years ago and according to new examinations by conservationists their condition is more fragile than has hitherto been suspected.

After consultation with the Norwegian Director for Cultural Heritage it has been decided to keep the ships at Bygdøy, where they are currently exhibited; thus spiking the plans for moving them to the centre of Oslo and placing them as the star-pieces of a new Viking Age Museum and experience centre near the waterfront of the city and next to the new Opera.

– It is sad to ascertain that our most precious national heritage is in an advanced state of decay. On the other hand it is good finally to get a decision concerning the plans to move the ships from their current location, says Director Jørn Holme.

According to the Directorate for Cultural Heritage this means that plans may be laid for the future conservation of the ships as well as developing new ways of exhibiting them in an enticing way, which may allure new visitors in the future. Exactly how this is to be achieved is currently unknown. The recent report, which undergirds the final decision, is very detailed and the conclusions there (concerning the challenge for the conservationists) will have to be digested first.

Bygdøy is a peninsula on the western side of Oslo and has several museums, like the Kon-Tiki Museum, which shows all year long the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum) and the Viking Ship Museum as well as the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen. Bygdøy is one of Norway’s oldest cultural landscapes with a rich history. Bygdøy has beautiful parks and forests and some of Oslo’s most popular beaches. Large parts of the area such as The King’s Forest and the Bygdøy Royal Estate are protected from development.

However, there is no doubt that Bygdøy presents some possibilities – both to continue to exhibit the ships in the current evocative surroundings, which are from the 30es (and remind visitors of a cathedral); and at the same time build a new state of the art visitor centre and maybe Open-Air Museum to welcome the mass tourism, which will definitely be the result of the new series on Vikings , currently filmed in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe and scheduled to air in the summer of 2013; and coinciding with amongst other things a major Viking Exhibition in Copenhagen.