Discovery Times Square is no ordinary museum, but rather a thrilling, interactive, and educational exhibition center that brings a whole new level of enjoyment to learning about the world’s defining cultures, art, history, and events. Currently, the exhibition space that defines itself as “more than a museum” is featuring The Vikings Exhibition through September 5, displaying the largest collection of Vikings artifacts ever to visit North America. With more than 500 treasures, some never before seen outside of Scandinavia, the exhibition shows us why—even 1,000 years later—Viking culture still captivates our imagination.
Before we delve into the fun stuff, can you give us a little background on who the Vikings were and some of what they’re known for?
The era of the Vikings is a mythical period in Scandinavian history. The word Viking means something you do, not something you are. The Scandinavians did not call themselves Vikings unless they were out “on a Viking”.
The Viking Age is associated with violent raids, “peaceful” trading, brave seamanship and colonization outside Scandinavia.
If you don’t know much about the medieval Norse culture is it common to perceive it as simply barbaric? What displayed artifacts dispute that?
For example, if you look just in the two sections “Family Community” and “Homes Colorful and Bustling” there are lots of artifacts telling us about living on farms, food & cooking, jewelry, relationships between men and women, music, housebuilding and reading & writing.
Is it true that Vikings are known for their good hygiene? How can we tell?
In the exhibition you will find many combs, but also ear spoons, tweezers and fragments of mirrors.
What do you think is the most surprising thing we’ll learn about Viking culture? What’s on view to represent that?
You’d be surprised to learn that there were no horns on the Viking helmets! Some women were as powerful as men. Most people were farmers.
We’ve caught word that there’s a replica of a Scandinavia Viking Boat. What was the process for constructing it and what features are the most interesting for us to explore during a visit?
Yes, the name of the boat is the Gokstad II. The reconstruction comes from the Viking Ship Museum’s boatyard in Roskilde, Denmark. All materials were chosen according to the original boat. The boat was built with the same techniques that were used in Viking Age boatbuilding. This means that no saw was used. Oak trees measuring more than 1 meter in diameter were radially cleaved into halves, quarters, eights, and finally shaped in planks using replicas of Viking tools.
The sails for the reconstruction of the Gokstad boats were made of wool in a weaving technique common for the early Viking Age. The sails are treated with tallow and ochre.
Discovery Times Square is known for immersing visitors in the subject of its exhibitions through interactive displays. What can we expect to experience this time around?
There are several possibilities to explore and get to know Vikings through interactive stations throughout the exhibition. All of these are digital and there are also interactive stations which are “analogue/hands on”. You’ll be able to…
• Excavate a Viking Age boat grave.
• Learn how to build a ship and the effect building that ship has on the environment.
• Understand what the Vikings wore through an interactive that guides you step by step as you dress a Viking.
• Play Hnefata – A game of skill, in which a king tries to escape with the help of his men from a besieging army.
• Explore the fascinating realm of the Viking-age gods.
If Vikings existed in New York City today, where would they like to go?
Why not Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale’s? They loved beautiful jewelry, clothes and trading!