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Vikings: Beyond the Legend at the Cincinnati Museum Center

Largest Viking ship ever discovered makes North American debut in exhibit at Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati has been invaded by Vikings. But these Vikings are not the bearded, horned-helmet barbarians depicted in operas, comic strips, cartoons and sports mascots. Go beyond the beard in Vikings: Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center.

vikings-beyond-the-legendReal Vikings don’t quite fit the image of a burly man with a braided beard, battle axe and horned-helmet that immediately comes to mind. Vikings: Beyond the Legend uses the latest archaeological finds and incredible original artifacts to break down the Viking stereotype and replace it with a more accurate image of a people and culture with sophisticated knowledge of metalworking, shipbuilding, navigation and trade.

“We are really excited to bring this exhibition to Cincinnati,” said Maria Jansén, director general at the Swedish History Museum . “Don’t miss this opportunity to meet new sides of the well-known Vikings!”

Vikings: Beyond the Legend features interactive displays, hands-on challenges and over 500 artifacts on loan from the Swedish History Museum. Original artifacts show the highly skilled craftsmanship of people who used textiles, wood, bronze, iron, silver, bone, leather and ceramics to create incredible everyday items and ceremonial pieces. Guests can virtually excavate a Viking ship layer by layer, uncovering rich discoveries like weapons, tools and animals just as archaeologists did. You can also test your strength using a model of a Viking sword and compete in authentic Viking games.

Some of the most incredible artifacts are the four Viking ships, including the Krampmacken, a reconstruction of a 26-foot Viking merchant boat found on Gotland Island, Sweden in the 1920s, and the Karl, a reconstruction of a 21-foot sailing ship. The third ship is unique as it exists only in part, a “Ghost Ship” of original iron rivets suspended where they would have been before the oak hull deteriorated over 1,000 years.

But perhaps the most impressive ship is the 122-foot Roskilde 6, a partially intact Viking longship excavated from the Roskilde Fjord in Denmark in 1997 and the sole artifact on loan from the National Museum of Denmark. The longship was a Viking warship that was especially fast due to its long, narrow shape, many rowers and shallow draft that helped it navigate Scandinavian and Northern European ports and sail up rivers deep inland. The Roskilde 6 is the longest Viking ship ever found and makes its North American debut in Cincinnati as part of Vikings: Beyond the Legend at Cincinnati Museum Center.

“The 122-foot Roskilde 6 sets the tone for this exhibition, one of the largest Cincinnati Museum Center has ever hosted,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Vikings: Beyond the Legend is an incredible collection of original artifacts that tell the story of a people whose beliefs, values, skills and culture continue to influence and captivate us today.”

Vikings: Beyond the Legend busts the myths of a culture devoted to war and destruction and more accurately portrays the Vikings as farmers, artisans, traders and explorers, contributing to literature, religion and navigation.

The Vikings originated from Scandinavia (the modern countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and parts of Finland) but inhabited land throughout northern and eastern Europe, the British Isles, Iceland and North America between 750-1100 CE. They were warriors, some who raided and plundered towns both near and as far away as the Mediterranean and northern Africa. But they were also farmers, merchants and storytellers, and their source of status was land ownership rather than brute strength. Plundering aside, they engaged in trade extensively through Europe, favoring their knowledge of winds and currents over navigational tools as they sailed between trading centers. They worshipped Norse gods like Odin, Freya and Thor but accepted many aspects of Christianity. Unlike their European counterparts, women were the head of the household and wielded great influence in Viking society.

Vikings: Beyond the Legend is a joint venture between and produced by The Swedish History Museum in Sweden and MuseumsPartner in Austria. The Roskilde 6 display is a joint venture between and produced by The National Museum of Denmark and MuseumsPartner.

Vikings: Beyond the Legend opens November 11 at Cincinnati Museum Center. For ticket information visit