This autumn through January 1, a groundbreaking exhibition is on view at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia - the place where "Science, Nature, and Fun Make History."
Vikings: Warriors of the Sea challenges long-established myths and focuses on the role of the Norse as traders, merchants, and farmers rather than fearsome raiders.
Featuring more than 140 archaeological items, the exhibition runs concurrently with a number of special Viking-themed events, the next of which is due to take place on November 10.
The Viking Herald spoke with three key people who helped bring the exhibition to life: Project Manager Marianne Blank of the Exhibitions Museum of Denmark, Søren Nielsen, a boatbuilder at the Viking Ship Museum boatyard, and Jena Allison, Communications Manager for the Fernbank Museum.
Each artifact, from weaponry to domestic tools, has been curated to give visitors insight into the Vikings' advanced navigation skills and their daily lives. Photo: Fernbank Museum
The Viking Herald: How and why did the idea for a Vikings exhibition come about?
Marianne Blank: As we are in Scandinavia, many of our guests are curious to learn about Viking lives and mindsets. In 2013, we presented our first special exhibition on Vikings, simply titled Vikings.
This was a collaboration with the British Museum in London and the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Berlin.
The exhibition included objects from all three museums and loans from other institutions.
The content of all three exhibitions was more or less the same, but the scenography differed at each venue.
This exhibition featured Roskilde 6 as its centerpiece, the largest Viking warship ever discovered. At our museum, we conserved all the wooden parts of the ship in, if I recall correctly, six years.
That ship was the start of our idea to let it travel the world. We developed the content about Viking life and beliefs together with Museumspartner, using our own objects.
Since then, the exhibition has been shown in a larger version with the ship and a smaller one without it in Australia, Canada, Europe, the USA, and now here at Fernbank.
- READ MORE: All you need to know about Viking ships
With two curators leading the way, the exhibition was meticulously assembled, showcasing items that have been carefully conserved and displayed for the first time outside Scandinavia. Photo: Fernbank Museum
The Viking Herald: How long did it take to collate all the exhibits?
Marianne Blank: Since they are all our own objects and with two curators on the project, especially Peter Pentz, who is very familiar with the museum's collections, it didn't take too much time to allocate the exhibits.
Developing the narrative was far more time-consuming, along with curating the objects that had come from the storage rooms and had not been exhibited before.
The Viking Herald: How long did it take to create the replica ship? Was it done locally, and how complicated was the logistics of getting it to the museum?
Søren Nielsen: It took us about 1,000 hours to reconstruct the small Viking Age boat from the Gokstad ship find, the so-called Gokstadfaering.
We reconstructed it primarily using tools and techniques inferred from the archaeological remains of the original boat.
We built it here at The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, where we have a boatyard specialized in reconstructing vessels from the Viking Age.
Local artisans were also involved, utilizing traditional techniques to create a replica Viking ship that anchors the exhibition at the Fernbank Museum. Photo: Fernbank Museum
The Viking Herald: Are there any special events tied to the exhibition?
Jena Allison: Fernbank Museum is hosting a special, adults-only (21+) event titled Fernbank After Dark: Warriors + WildWoods: AGLOW on Friday, November 10.
In addition to its regular opening hours of 10 am to 5 pm, Vikings: Warriors of the Sea will be open for select nighttime events throughout the remainder of its time at Fernbank, including WildWoods: AGLOW.
Visitors can explore this immersive experience until it concludes on January 1.
Address: Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA.
Opening Hours: The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
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