Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I hate museums.  Especially the historical kind.  Hate hate hate.  Some art museums, I'm pretty OK with, but one of the most dreadful ways I can imagine spending a day is shuffling around learning how [insert group of people] did [insert daily chore] in the [insert past era] in [insert geographic region].  It's like my own personal version of Mad Libs from Hell.  Put slightly more eloquently, my hate for museums burns hotter than a syphilitic hooker in a police line-up.

The Vasamuseet changed all that.  Holy shit.

The Vasa is a Swedish warship that sank in 1628 and was raised, mostly intact, in 1961.  Yes, it sat essentially undisturbed for 333 years.  When they raised it, they moved it to shore and built a building around it, and then set about restoring it and learning about how it was built, why it sank, and otherwise all about their ancestors.

It's stunning.

Bow view

It's a look into our human past that resonated with me.  Here's a spectacle of engineering, construction, and ingenuity, and it's steeped in culture and national pride that we could all learn from.  Furthermore, the photos and accounts of the recovery effort were top-notch.  You think your shoes have a lot of suction when they get stuck in the mud?

Gun ports along the port side

The ship was decked out from bow to stern with hand-carved wooden sculptures, many of which are in excellent condition.  There were enough bits of paint left on the ship when it was raised that they've been able to reconstruct its full color scheme.  They found unused sails, folded neatly.  Even the lower sections of the masts were intact.  Basically, it's stunning that the Swedish waters preserved it to the degree they did, and that's what made it fascinating to me.

Stern carvings

Every detail on the ship is both ornate and functional, and all designed without the advent of CAD :).  The museum was kind enough to build multiple levels from which to view the ship, so while we weren't allowed inside, we could get right up close to just about every detail and feature.

Stern and port view

The level of craftsmanship in the sculptures was a little mind-blowing to me.  The lions' heads on the gun ports were curious as they were only visible with the ports open, and they were definitely designed to intimidate the enemy.  As though the rows of lurking cannons weren't intimidation enough.

Lion carving on starboard side

I could easily have spent all day in there with Rory, but a) we got hungry, and b) it was daylight hours, so we felt obligated to be outside in case the sun made an appearance.  I left Vasamuseet impressed like I've never been impressed before, and I'd -highly- recommend it as a must-do on any visit to Stockholm.


No comments:

Past Detritus