Vikings: Beyond the Legend is coming to Melbourne Museum

The largest collection of Viking artefacts to ever be displayed in Melbourne is opening on 23 March.

Vikings: Beyond the Legend is opening at Melbourne Museum on 23 March

Vikings have often been depicted in popular culture as a bunch of bearded, dirty, horn-helmeted barbarians. But recent archaeological discoveries have revealed a much more nuanced and refined people and culture.

Viking tweezers, razors and combs have been uncovered by archaeologists, and much to our disbelief, there has been no evidence to suggest that their neatly brushed hair was ever covered by horned helmets.

Combining the latest archaeological findings and more than 450 original artefacts from the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, Vikings: Beyond the Legend removes the stereotypes and reveals Vikings and their rich, often-misunderstood culture in a fascinating, new light.

Exploring six key themes, the exhibition provides insights into Viking people and their domestic life, religion, death rituals, craftsmanship, and raiding and trading culture. It more accurately portrays the Vikings as farmers, merchants, artisans, and explorers.

Interactive displays, hands-on challenges, maps, images and filmic elements will be displayed alongside more than 450 Viking objects, including weapons, jewellery, clothing, household tools, ceramics, game pieces, bones, musical instruments, and rune stones.

Among the rare treasures, some of which have never left Scandinavia, will be one of the finest Thor hammer pendants ever found, rune stones used to mark death and important events, a 1000-year-old piece of bread, swords dating from 700-1100 AD and even coprolites (fossilised poo!) that have been used to determine ancient Viking diets. 

Ships were an important part of Norse mythology and vital to Viking expansion, travel and trade. On display will be the Krampmacken, a replica of a nine-meter Viking merchant boat found in Gotland Island in Sweden in the 1920's along with the powerful skeletal remains of a Viking ship – where only the original hand forged Viking nails remain creating the effect of a beautiful "ghost ship".

Interactive elements will allow visitors to learn and play the Viking board game Hnefatafl and excavate layer-by-layer a boat burial, uncovering a skeleton of the buried and artefacts such as weapons, gaming pieces and household tools that would have accompanied the burial more than 1000 years ago.

Visitors can further immerse themselves in Vikings culture through Melbourne Museum's exciting schedule of associated public programming. In collaboration with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Melbourne Museum is set to host A Vikings Long Table Dinner (March 24) where guests can enjoy a Scandinavian feast and after-hours viewing of the exhibition.

As the months grow colder, Old Norse to Contemporary Scandi Culture: A Workshop Series will explore ways of bringing about hygge - the Scandinavian concept of cosiness, warmth and togetherness. Learn how to make bread, brew beer and design Scandi jewellery, and then stay for fika – the all day cake and coffee ritual.

Lynley Marshall, CEO, Museums Victoria said, "Museums Victoria is thrilled to be bringing Vikings: Beyond the Legend to Melbourne. This myth-busting exhibition offers visitors the chance to engage with more than 450 rare and enchanting treasures. It tells a fascinating story of a people whose beliefs, skills and culture continue to influence and captivate us. I'm particularly excited for Krampmacken, a nine-meter masterpiece."

Katherine Hauptman, Museum Director, Swedish History Museum said, "During the last decades the Vikings have become international celebrities within popular culture, and the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm has one of the world's largest collections of objects from the Viking era. Therefore, we are excited to show some of the highlights from the real Vikings to an Australian audience."

Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibition tickets on sale now. Buy your tickets online before March 22, 2018 to go into the draw to win a trip for two to Denmark!

Vikings: Beyond the Legend
March 23 – August 26, 2018
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street Carlton
Tickets $14–$28
(Children Under 3 free, discounts for concessions apply, family tickets $70)

Interviews, images, vision and further information is available.

Join the mailing list and get the latest from our Museums direct to your inbox.

Share your thoughts to WIN

We'd love to hear about your experience with our website. Our survey takes less than 10 minutes and entries go in a draw to win a $100 gift voucher at our online store!