Denver Museum of Nature & Science hosts new exhibition “Vikings: Beyond the Legend”
DENVER — Wanderer, warrior, friend, or foe? Who were the Vikings really? A myth-busting exhibition that has captivated more than a million people around the world is coming to Colorado. “Vikings: Beyond the Legend” — opening at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on March 10 — lays to waste to the one-dimensional stereotype of bearded barbarians with horned helmets. Guests will marvel instead at a culture of surprising refinement, complexity and achievement, inspired by a supernatural world inhabited by Thor, Odin and Freyja, and other gods, goddesses and giants. Fresh insights revealed through archaeological discoveries and more than 500 treasures show why the Vikings will always capture imaginations of all ages.
The exhibition transports you back to Scandinavia in 750 – 1100 CE, the Viking Age. “Viking” was not a nationality but rather what archaeologists have come to call the people living in Scandinavia at the time. While Vikings engaged in raiding, pillaging, and “going a-viking” — a term they used themselves — their societies were complex and multifaceted. Vikings were skilled craftspeople, successful merchants and hard-working farmers whose influence was felt across western Europe and beyond. No one thing defined the Vikings and research continues to teach us the nuances of these people.
Although the exhibition tells the story of the Vikings through spectacular artifacts, guests won’t find any horned helmets. In fact, no Viking helmet has ever been discovered with horns. This image emerged in the 19th century, popularized by authors and artists who romanticized Norse culture, leading to many common misconceptions. “Vikings: Beyond the Legend” sets the story straight with artifacts and hands-on activities to reveal glimpses into family and community, religion and rituals, travel and trade, aristocracy and slavery, and the significant role of women.
These are some of the highlights from the exhibition:
- Two replica boats, named the Arby and the Eik Sande, meticulously re-created using Viking processes and materials of the time. The originals were used for local travel, along the coasts and on rivers.
- The oldest known Scandinavian crucifix — illustrating the transition between Old Norse religious practices and Christianity.
- A “ghost ship” represented by a sculpture of 219 hanging iron rivets from an authentic aristocratic burial ship. All the wood from the boat disintegrated, leaving only the rivets situated in the ground.
- Striking examples of the work of highly skilled craftspeople who creatively used textiles, wood, metal, bone, leather, glass and ceramics to create pieces for domestic life, ornamentation and battle.
- Activities about daily life, traditional clothing, the rune alphabet, authentic Viking games, and Norse mythology, and a chance to find out just how heavy those Viking swords really were.
- The Museum’s historical enactors, who set the stage and bring the Viking Age to life. “Exposing the complexities of these sea-faring, land-loving people reveals how their creative and innovative culture shaped them and made them a force behind European trade networks, cross-cultural exchange, and other influences that have endured across centuries,” said Stephen Nash, the Denver Museum’s curator of archaeology and curatorial advisor for the exhibition. “Museum guests will leave the barbarian image behind forever after this experience.”
Tickets go on sale on February 13. Guests pay $25.95 adult, $21.95 senior (age 65+), $19.95 junior/student (ages 3 – 18 or with a student ID), which includes general admission. Museum members receive a discount on admission to the exhibition. Timed tickets will be required and advance reservations are encouraged. Group pricing is available. An audio guide in English and Spanish will be available for an additional price.
For tickets, hours, and more, visit dmns.org/vikings. “Vikings: Beyond the Legend” is a joint venture between and produced by the Swedish History Museum in Sweden and MuseumsPartner in Austria.
Media contact: Maura O’Neal, firstname.lastname@example.org. 303.370.6407
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region’s leading resource for informal science education. Our mission is to be a catalyst and ignite the community’s passion for nature and science. The Museum offers a wide variety of engaging exhibitions, programs, activities, and scientific research to inspire public appreciation and understanding of the wonders of Colorado, Earth, and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205.
Information: dmns.org or 303.370.6000. Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. The Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
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