The fate of the Museum of the Viking Age (previously known av the Viking Ship Museum) has been uncertain for a long time period.
The original museum closed in 2021 to make room for a new and upgraded building, but budget issues lead to the construction being put on hold.
Increased costs for raw materials made the project about 1 billion Norwegian kroner more expensive than originally planned, and the Norwegian government simply refused to give the money to the museum.
For a long time it seemed like the Museum of the Viking Age wouldn’t be build, and the 3 authentic viking ships there would stay behind locked doors, unavailable to the public.
However, the Norwegian government changed their mind, and has now increased the budget by 700,000,000 NOK. This is still 300 million less than they need, so the museum will have to find some ways to cut the costs.
The increase in the budget is equivalent to $70 million USD. The original budget was for 2.4 billion NOK ($240 million USD), but the covic pandemic lead to higher costs of raw materials. Statsbygg, the company responsible for building the facilities told the museum that they needed another billion, and estimated the project to cost 3.4 billion NOK ($340 million USD) in total.
Now it seems like the budget they have to work with is 3.1 billion NOK ($310 million USD).
The Museum of the Viking Age is getting constructed
The museum director has said that it’s possible to construct the building and museum with the additional budget they got, but they have to remove the originals plans for classrooms where school classes could learn more about the viking age, and an office building they wanted for the employees.
The museum director Håkon Glørstad fears that this will affect the museum in the long run. He told NRK that he will keep working on getting additional funding for the museum, and hopes to raise the additional 300 million NOK to be able to get the original museum facilities they had planned.
The construction is slated to begin this year, and the opening of the Museum of the Viking Age is still planned for 2026. The new facilities are constructed to be able to handle as much as 1 million visitors yearly, a huge increase from the original 30,000 that the old museum was designed to handle.
The museum director assures us that the new budget will give us a museum where the viking ships and all the different viking artifacts will be taken good care of. The new museum will have a much bigger collection of viking items than what was originally displayed at the Viking Ship Museum, so it will be a much more immersive experience.
This means that you will “soon” be able to see all the three different viking ships for yourself when the museum opens. The viking ships are currently not available to the public, and are kept at a secure location until the new museum is ready to open in about 4 years from now.
Why the Viking Ship Museum needed new buildings
The original Viking Ship Museum was one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions, and about 500,000 people stopped by the museum every single year. Despite this, the original museum was only designed to handle 30,000 yearly visitors, so it was super crowded and usually filled to the brim!
Not only was it crowded, but the museum also caused some decay to the viking ships themselves. These 1,000 year old ships are obviously very delicate, and air humidity and light lead to a slow decay.
Researchers determined that the viking ships needed better facilities if we didn’t want them to be ruined, so plans for a brand new museum building was put in motion.