Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Vasa Museum

How can I describe the Vasa Museum? In 1628, the king of Sweden - Gustavus Adolphus commissioned the construction of a warship to fight the Poles. In those days there were no plans made - a good shipbuilder knew what to do, designed the ship as he went along and people built it under his direction. When the king saw the ship he thought it should be higher. The shipbuilder said it would be too heavy, but the king insisted and we all know that kings get their way. So an extra deck was added complete with cannons. The day the ship was launched with bands and much fanfare, it moved into the water and within 10 minutes it listed and then sank in Stockholm harbour. One story - someone was behind a tree when the ship launched and when he turned back the ship was gone. He was said to have exclaimed, "that was one fast ship!"

Because the Baltic is not as salty as the ocean, worms that usually eat wood cannot survive. Thus the ship remained, incredibly well-preserved on the harbour bed. In the 1950s someone researched this ship and decided to try to find it. He went out into the harbour, taking core samples and struck, not gold, but old oak. The ship was found. But how to get it up? We saw a film about how they got cables underneath it and raised it between 2 barges. The result is an amazing artifact that takes up a whole museum. The hull came up intact and they were able to reconstruct the ship. This ship was meant to impress. It was originally brightly painted - no camoflage in those days. By taking samples of the bits of remaining paint they were able to restore some of the many statues and carvings to their original hues. The carvings are amazing. Some of the ship's ropes are original. Chests were brought up that had not been opened since the ship sank; they contained clothing, shoes, etc. They are in amazing condition.We learned about life on a ship, saw the many things brought up with the ship and gawked at the ship itself from different stories of the building.


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