The Viking Ship Museum was one of the most visited Norwegian museums with over 500,000 visitors yearly, but it was closed down in late 2021. The reason was because the museum needed bigger and better buildings to prevent decay to the viking shops, and a plan to make the new Museum of the Viking Age was put in motion. It now seems like the entire museum might not even be made at all any longer, due to budgeting problems and political unwillingness.
The original plan for the museum was to have it done within a budget of 2.13 billion NOK, but the prices of materials and construction increased a lot during the pandemic. New cost estimates put the price tag for the entire building at 3.13 billion NOK, so it will end up costing an additional billion Norwegian kroner (roughly $100,000,000 / one hundred million USD). The price increase directly had to do with rising costs of raw materials.
Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe (Centre Party) is leading a political movement to stop the government to pay for additional costs at museums, but the museum and University of Oslo (UiO) that is in charge of the museum are obviously infuriated that pandemic-related additional costs will stop the entire project.
Update: This budget issue has been resolved by a 700 million NOK grant. This means that the rest of the information in this post is now outdated.
The access to see real viking ships could be lost to the public indefinitely
Ola Borten Moe originally required the museum to find a solution to make the museum be able to get back down to the original budget by cutting costs. He suggested scaling down the project to a smaller building. However, this proved impossible, and the reality of the situation is that the museum might not even get built at all if the government keeps refusing to help out.
The Viking Ship Museum closed its doors in 2021, and originally intended to open the brand new museum i 2026, but it now seems like this might not happen.
The viking ships are very fragile, and the museum director says that it will be impossible to display the viking ships to the public without a proper building where they can control factors like humidity and light to prevent more decay to the ships. The short summary is that these viking ships might never be displayed to the public again if they are unable to build the museum the way they need it to be built.
Not only will this be a tragedy to everyone who wants to actually see real viking ships, but it will be a big loss to Oslo’s tourism as well since the Viking Ship Museum was a big tourist attraction. It brought in over 500,000 visitors yearly, and the new museum was estimated to bring in about one million visitors yearly. So it’s absolutely a huge loss!
This means that you might not be able to see a real life viking ship in Norway at any point in the future, and that they will all be behind closed doors, unavailable to the general public.
What can you do to affect the politicians?
If you think that the Norwegian government should save the Museum of the Viking Age, sign the petition at Change.org. This is an official petition by the museum curators and researchers behind the new museum.
Norwegians are also urged to get in touch with your local representatives. Tell them what you think of this political play! Your local Central Party (Senterpartiet) or Labor Party (Arbeiderpartiet) representative should be a good start.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.