WASHINGTON -- The exhibition "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga"
opened April 29 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of
Natural History here.
The $3 million, 5,500-square-foot exhibition comprises more than
200 artifacts and is recognized as an official project of the White
House Millennium Council.
Commemorating the 1,000-year anniversary of the Vikings' arrival
in North America, which takes place this year, the exhibition
continues through Aug. 13 in Washington and will travel over the
next two years to New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and
The exhibition brings together for the first time artifacts from
the Viking Scandinavian homelands of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, as
well as those from Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Canada and the U.S.
All are lands the Vikings visited during their westward
Will any of this stir interest in travel to Scandinavia?
"No question about it," said Einar Gustavsson, director, the
Americas of the Icelandic Tourist Board and chairman of the
European Travel Commission. "This is the event of 2000 for the
Smithsonian. We are very confident that this is going to jazz up
interest in Scandinavia for lots of American people. It is very
well publicized by the Smithsonian's PR department, and we expect
that also to help."
Gustavsson noted that the Oct. 17 opening of the exhibit at the
Museum of Natural History in New York will be preceded by the Oct.
5 docking of the Viking ship Islendingur in New York Harbor. A
permit is being sought to display the 70-foot ship outside the
museum for the duration of the exhibit.
The ship, a replica of one found in Norway 200 years ago, is
scheduled to depart Iceland on June 17 and Greenland on July 17.
One of its crew members will be Iceland-born Canadian astronaut
Bjarni Tryggvason, who flew on the space shuttle Endeavor in
"The Icelandic sagas teach us that dreams can come true," said
Bjorn Bjarnason, chairman of the Nordic Council of Ministers for
Cultural Affairs, which along with Volvo is funding the exhibition.
"One such dream was the discovery of America."
Bjarnason said that according to the 12th century Book of the
Icelanders, only 14 of the 25 ships that left Iceland in 988 to
colonize Greenland reached their destination.
For more information on "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga" and
related programming, contact Kara Callaghan at (202) 357-4077.
Smithsonian Information Center
Phone: (202) 357-2700