Lots of people have heard the story of the Titanic. But stories of massive ships sinking tragically on their maiden voyage have happened throughout history. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm Sweden displays the sixty-four gun warship Vasa, a well-preserved ship that sank in 1628 on its first journey. Today, this is Scandinavia’s most visited museum. Families who love maritime history will enjoy this museum.
The Vasa was built during a war between Sweden and Poland-Lithuania. In August of 1628, the ship set sail from Älvsnabben on a calm day. The ship passed under the bluffs of modern day Södermalm and was taken by a sudden gust of wind. These blasts continued as the ship traveled and pushed the gun ports under the sea’s surface, causing water to fill the lower deck. The water kept pouring in until the ship sank. Despite the efforts of rescue boats, thirty people died in the accident. Hundreds of Stockholm residents who had come to see the ship sail witnessed the Vasa as it sank.
After archeologists unearthed it, Vasa was stored in Wasavarvet (“The Vasa Shipyard”) from 1961 to 1988. Here, conservationists treated the ship with polyethylene glycol. In 1981, the Swedish Government held a competition to design the museum building for the ship. 384 architects sent in ideas, and Marianne Dahlbäck and Göran Månsson won the contest. The museum officially opened June fifteenth in 1990. Today, four other ships in the nearby harbor have transformed into museums – the icebreaker Sankt Erik, the light vessel Finngrundet, the torpedo boat Spica, and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson.
Over three hundred and fifty ideas were submitted, and Marianne Dahlbäck and Göran Månsson won the contest. The museum officially opened June fifteenth in 1990. Today, four other ships in the nearby harbor have transformed into museums – the icebreaker Sankt Erik, the light vessel Finngrundet, the torpedo boat Spica, and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson.
What You Will See
Visitors can take a twenty-five minute guided tour around the ship to learn about its history from the construction and maiden voyage to the salvage and preservation. Guided tours are included in the price of the admission.
All in all, the museum features fourteen exhibits for visitors to explore and learn about the ship and the period. Through paintings, photos, films and the artifacts themselves, visitors learn about the hard work put into restoring and preserving this ship and the memory of those that were aboard.
The museum also includes over 40,000 items discovered on the ship. Everything from weapons to utensils to chests from aboard the ship is on display. Even after 50 years of going through the items and learning about the ship, discoveries are still being made!
Parents and kids can also enjoy the “Family Trail” tour designed for children six years and older. Kids will also enjoy the Sailing Ship exhibit on the sixth floor. This exhibit is interactive and visitors can equip and sail their own Vasa, attempting to keep it from capsizing.
Also in this exhibit is a replica of the platform on the Vasa that was 17 meters (about 55 feet) above the deck for visitors to get a feel for what it would have been like to stand up there above the ship!
Families should not miss the Vasa Museum Garden, filled with flowers, vegetables, and medicinal herbs that the crew of the Vasa might have taken with them, or that one might have found in the farms and towns at that time.
Location, Hours, Admission
The Vasa Museum is located on Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden. It is open daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is 130 SEK ($13.81) for adults and 100 SEK ($10.62) for students. Children younger than eighteen get in for free.
Autism Travel Tips:
- This location is a very popular museum, so families should try to get there early because it will likely be quite busy. It can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours to go through.
- Luggage is not permitted in the museum, and there is limited luggage storage space, but there is a coat check.
- There are toilets at the entrance and on the third floor, and there is space for baby care at the bathroom at the entrance.
- People who may need assistance in reading the exhibit text may bring an additional person for no extra fee. There is also a model of the ship for those who might be visually impaired.
- Braille information is available in English and Swedish.
- The museum is wheelchair accessible, and there are elevators on all floors.
- There is a café on-site that can accommodate those with gluten or lactose-free diets.