Museum Center partners with Miami University to expand knowledge of Vikings

| February 3, 2017

Gallery talks and panel lecture enhance Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibition

CINCINNATI – The brutal and exotic mystique of the Vikings is receiving a new spotlight in the worldwide, ocean-spanning exhibition Vikings: Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC). Experts from Miami University are joining the fray by collaborating on two special events in February

On Saturday, February 4, CMC is presenting Miami Galleries Day and hosting Miami faculty and graduate students as they share their expertise on Vikings with a variety of informal talks. The gallery talks are included with admission to the exhibition.

On Tuesday, February 21, Miami will present “Know Your Vikings: Raiders, Builders and Legends,” a panel lecture part of CMC’s free Insights Lecture Series .

“The Vikings cared about much more than just swords and looting,” said P. Renee Baernstein, professor of history and associate dean of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences . “This exhibition, along with the Miami-sponsored events, invites the public to feel, hear and imagine how the people we call Vikings lived everyday life: how they ate, farmed, worked, wrote, sang and dreamed. Miami Galleries Day in particular will be great for kids, too, so bring the family.”

Miami Galleries Day will be set up as a series of informal talks from noon to 2 p.m. Guests are welcome to move from one to another, as the lectures take place concurrently. Topics and experts include:
Viking English Today – Dr. Patrick Murphy, associate professor of English, will explore how the English we speak today is shaped by long-gone Viking invaders. Contact with Old Norse in the medieval era gave the English tongue scores of common words, so that we can scarcely now speak without Viking lingo. Even our pronouns are Norse. But beyond all this, the Vikings left a far deeper scar on the structure of English itself, fundamentally altering its grammar.

Rune Writing and Old Norse Language – Dr. Ruth H. Sander, professor emerita of German, and Laura Thurston, alumni in painting, decipher runes, mysterious markings that served as a system of writing for Vikings from roughly AD 150 to 1100. Runes were used for carving on stone or wood to mark graves or to make magic charms. They’ll tell you a bit about the runes’ history, show you how they represent sounds and words and even help you write your own name in runic script.

Women’s Work and Spinning – Leigh Winstead, graduate student in history, will lead a hands-on demonstration where you can try your hand at using a simple drop spindle to make thread out of wool, just as Viking women would have used on their farmsteads.
Long Ships and Buildings – Dr. Gerardo Brown-Manrique, professor of architecture and interior design, examines the similarities between Norse shipbuilding techniques and their constructions on land.

“Know Your Vikings: Raiders, Builders and Legends” is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 21. The panel will discuss:
Raiding and Trading in the Middle Ages – Dr. Dan Prior, associate professor of history, explains how the Vikings were just one of many raiding cultures in medieval Eurasia. Dr. Prior sets the stage with an overview of medieval conquerors on land and see, including the Mongols, Huns and Vikings.

Viking Ships, Viking Buildings and Architecture in Scandinavia – Did you ever wonder how modern Scandinavian design – think Ikea – relates to the medieval Vikings? Dr. Brown-Manrique will explore Viking building techniques, including ships, farms and churches, to show how their design, woodworking and decoration developed and influenced the early 20th century architects of Scandinavia as they developed Nordic modernism, the style so familiar to us today.

Musical Legends: Norse Gods and Vikings – While we know very little about Viking folk music, that hasn’t stopped us from speculating about these captivating Scandinavian seafarers. Margaret Breidenbaugh, graduate student in history, discusses how music ranging from Richard Wagner’s epic German opera “The Ring Cycle” to modern Swedish metal bands like Bathory to music featured in the History Channel’s popular TV series “Vikings” uses people own musical languages to express fascination with the Vikings. Are these musical portrayals harmless generalizations, negative stereotypes or attempts to get history right?

The free lecture on February 21 begins at 7 p.m. and is free, but space is limited so reserving your seat is recommended.

“We’re looking forward to partnering with Miami University so that we can utilize experts in our own backyard to expand on the lessons and revelations that Vikings: Beyond the Legend present,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “The exhibition presents a complex Viking culture that goes beyond the caricature of barbaric warriors and explores the beliefs, values, skills and culture that continue to influence and captivate us today.”

Vikings: Beyond the Legend features more than 500 original artifacts from the Swedish History Museum, plus interactive displays and hands-on challenges. The exhibition features four Viking ships, including 21-foot and 27-foot reproductions, a “Ghost Ship” consisting solely of the ship’s original iron rivets and, for the first time ever in North America, the Roskilde 6, the longest Viking ship ever discovered.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.cincymuseum.org/vikings

Category: Museum News

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