Vasa Museet in Stockholm: Tale of a Classic Late Bloomer

stockholm ship museum

Vasa Museet: It’s hard not to be humbled by the enormous Vasa ship.

When you walk into the Vasa Museet in Stockholm, you’re immediately in awe of the massive wooden ship that stands before you. The whole building of the museum is built around the enormous vessel, and the lighting is dim and dramatic to perserve this delicate giant.

small vasa model sweden

The museum’s model shows how the Vasa looked originally — love the bright colors!

Right after we played around at the Junibacken, the Children’s Museum, we went to Vasa Museet, which is just a short walk away on the island of Djurgarden. We arrived only knowing that this “ship museum” was one of Stockholm’s must-sees. And indeed, it’s hard not to fall in love with very tangible piece of history. But when we learned the story behind both the ship and the museum, we were that much more impressed.

This ship was completed in 1628, with the aim of being one of the world’s most powerful warships to fight Poland. But in her maiden voyage, the Vasa sank only 1300 meters after leaving Stockholm Harbor.

They began trying to raise the ship right away, but it took until 1961 to extract all of the different pieces. Then it took another 17 years to restore the badly damaged ship.

The museum didn’t open until 1990, making it a relatively new tourist attraction but a highly successful one.

This is truly a triumphant story. The Vasa seemed like a epic failure — perhaps history’s worst warship. But now almost 400 years later, it’s being celebrated by people visiting from around the globe. Talk about a classic late bloomer! It’s sort of like an artist who was unappeciated until his death, but I prefer to think of this as the ship’s true purpose in life: a vessel to carry us back to the glory of the sea and the romance of old-world craftmanship.

4 Responses to Vasa Museet in Stockholm: Tale of a Classic Late Bloomer

  1. Lifecruiser Travel
    Twitter: lifecruiser
    November 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    The Vasa ship is in my hometown and it really has an amazing story – what were they thinking when building it with all those heavy gun’s so high up in the very narrow ship…???!!! oh my, what a bummer! It’s quite suprising, considering that we had the Swedish vikings inheritage in the area and they were super skilled shipbuilder’s and seamen! Now afterward it’s fascinating and makes a huge tourist attraction when it really should be something to forget… ha ha…
    Lifecruiser Travel recently posted..Turning Torso Twisted Tower Power – Tallest in Sweden

  2. wandering educators
    Twitter: WanderingEds
    April 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    this is so cool! it reminds me of the boat unearthed in Egypt – I’d love to go to this museum!
    wandering educators recently posted..Florida Culture for the Week of April 22 by Josh Garrick

  3. Larissa
    Twitter: changes_long
    April 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    I like your positive take on the story, Liz! I actually saw the Wasa years ago, right around the time the museum opened. I remember thinking, “why on earth have they built a museum around a ship that was such a colossal failure?”. But there is something fascinating in the tenacity of the Swedes to reconstruct it!

    And I guess we all have a certain fascination for another famous ship that sank. . . maybe James Cameron should make a movie about it 😉
    Larissa recently posted..Picher Oklahoma: A modern American ghost town

  4. Aleah |
    Twitter: ALEAHphils
    April 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Is it possible to walk on and inside the ship? I know I would love to look inside!

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