Date of visit: 17th October 2015
|Tourist entrance to the Vasa Museum|
The Vasa Museum or in Swedish, “Vasamuseet” is a maritime museum in Stockholm. It is located on the island of Djurgarden, the museum that displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The Vasa Museum is opened in 1990. According declaration by its official web site, it is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. Together with other museums such as Stockholm Maritime Museum, it is the museum that belongs to the Swedish National Maritime Museums.
Let’s find out first about the 64-gun warship that was contracted out by King Gustav II Adolf on 16th January 1625 with the ship builder. Vaasa was the first out of 4 ships under the royal contract order book where the construction begins on Skeppsgarden, a naval shipyard in Stockholm using more than 300 men working in 1626. The Bronze Cannons were casted simultaneously. King Gustav II Adolf visited the shipyard 2 years later and inspecting the Vaasa progress. In August 1628, Vaasa makes its maiden voyage but capsizes and sinks in the middle of Stockholm harbor after only 1300 meter sailing. Captain Soren Hansson was jailed but released. No convicted of the disaster. Few attempts to salvage the ship underway thereafter till year 1629 but fails. Vaasa guns were salvaged since 1658 and by 1663 till 1665, most of Vasa’s 64 guns were towed by diving bell.
328 years after the ship rest deep down 38 meters in the seabed, the salvage efforts took place again in September 1956. The first dives on the ship that is 32 meters deep started off and not until in 1959, the coarse wires drawn under the ship and Neptun Company raises Vaasa in 18 stages to shallower water. On April 24 1961, the final salvage took place where Vaasa ship breaks the surface after 333 years being on the bottom. Vaasa was moving into a temporary museum, the Vasa Shipyard, until the present museum was built ready for her in 1988.
It was discovered that when Vaasa was built, it gave way to conflict at sea’s changing. The guns had previously been less decisive. The most important thing had been to conquer the opponent's ships, not to reduce them. Over time, the so-called ships of the line tactics to come; lined up in two lines and shot at each other. Vaasa is located between these two ways of fighting at sea. She has a heavy artillery as she is well equipped for close combat. The high stern suitable for shooting down the lower vessels. On the top deck were storm pieces, a heavy cannons which served as giant shotguns.
Vaasa, being a war machine allows 450 man staying aboard. Of these, around 300 are soldiers. Vaasa was not the largest ship built and she also did not have the largest number of guns. What made that she can be regarded as the kind most powerful warship at the time when she was built and that her broadside was so strong. The combined weight of the ammunition could be thrown from one side of the ship on all guns fired at the same time was more than 300 kg and made Vaasa to a fearsome war machine. Vaasa was built with 64 cannons, of which 48 pieces are 24-pounder, 8 numbers 3-pounder, 2 units of 1-pounder and 6 storm pieces.
When Vaasa was temporarily housed in the Vasa Shipyard, she was treated with polyethylene glycol. Visitors could only view the ship from two levels and the maximum distance was only 5 meter. In 1981, the Swedish government decided that a permanent Vasa museum was to be constructed and an architects' competition for the design of the museum building was organized. 384 architects sent in models of their ideas for the most suitable building to house the Vaasa and the final winners were Marianne Dahlback and Goran Mansson. The construction of the new building began on and around the dry dock of the old naval yard with an inauguration ceremony hosted by Prince Bertil in November 1987. Vaasa was towed into the flooded dry dock under the new building in December 1988 and during the summer of 1989, when visitors were allowed onto the construction site, 228,000 people visited the half-finished museum. The museum was officially opened on 15 June 1990. So far Vaasa has said been seen by over 25 million people.
The main hall contains the ship itself and various exhibits related to the archaeological findings of the ships and early 17th century Sweden. Vaasa has been fitted with the lower sections of all three masts, a new bowsprit, winter rigging, and has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted and are therefore clearly visible against the original material that has been darkened after three centuries under water.
The new museum is dominated by a large copper roof with stylized masts that represent the actual height of Vaasa when she was fully rigged. Parts of the building are covered in wooden panels painted in dark red, blue, tar black, ochre yellow and dark green. The interior is similarly decorated, with large sections of bare, unpainted concrete, including the entire ceiling. Inside the museum the ship can be seen from six levels, from her keel to the very top of the stern castle. Around the ship are numerous exhibits and models portraying the construction, sinking, location and recovery of the ship. There are also exhibits that expand on the history of Sweden in the 17th century, providing background information for why the ship was built. A movie theater shows a film in alternating languages on the recovery of the Vaasa.
Remarks: Research from Vasamuseet website and from Wikipedia.