For 95 years, finds from famous Viking ship graves from Gokstad, Oseberg, Tune, and Borre have been exhibited at the museum, captivating visitors from all over the world.
However, after almost 100 years of operations, the Viking Ship Museum closed its doors in 2022 to undergo a thorough transformation.
It will reemerge anew in 2025/2026 as the Museum of the Viking Age.
The goal of the museum refurbishment is to ensure the precious objects within are kept in optimal conditions, as well as to create the leading museum focused on the Viking Age in the world.
Valuable ships and objects already on the move
Engineers in Oslo started working on the new building that will house the famous Viking ships to ensure that the facility, located next door to the old one, can protect the wooden vessels.
The ships – which have been around for a millennium – were exposed to humidity and temperature changes in the old museum. The new building needs to have multiple safeguards in place that will protect the valuable Viking Age vessels moving forward.
However, the vibrations related to construction work alone are enough to damage the old ships, so engineers started building steel girders around them in November to protect them during the process.
"If we keep displaying them as they stand today, they will end up in pieces," Haakon Gloerstad, director of the Museum of Cultural History, which owns the Viking Ship Museum, told Reuters earlier this year.
"The Viking ships are wonders similar to the pyramids in Egypt and Tutankhamun's grave," Gloerstad added, noting that they are also least as vulnerable.
The Tune ship was safely moved a few meters closer to the wall in mid-December. Photo: Mari Parelius Wammer / Museum of Cultural History
The Viking Age ships will be lifted in their protective metal casing, while the sleighs (also found at the ship burial sites) will be moved to a special and secure room on a rail track.
The three magnificent sledges from the Oseberg ship burial – the only ones of their kind in the world – are too fragile to be moved out of the building, so they must be secured in a specially built room farthest away from where the new museum will be built.
The moving process has taken six years to plan.
"This wood is now incredibly fragile: you could make crumbs out of it, it would just fall apart between your fingers," head engineer David Hauer, charged with the supervision of the move, warned in November.
"There is always risk involved in such operations. The sleighs are incredibly fragile objects," Hauer added.
The sleighs will remain in the safe room during the construction of the new museum.
Furthermore, on December 16, the museum announced that the Tune Viking ship had been safely moved a few meters closer to the wall. While the step sounds simple, it is anything but. Including the massive protective casing, the ship now weighs 20 tons.
As the museum pointed out on its social media page, the Tune ship had to be moved to make room for the largest parts of the protective constructions for the Oseberg and Gokstad ships.
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