British Museum: Vikings: Life & Legend



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Photos © British Museum

Vikings: Life and Legend is the first exhibition to be held in the British Museum’s new state-of-the-art Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery. Presenting new archaeological discoveries never before seen in the UK, and using audiovisual technology to take the visitor on an atmospheric journey, the exhibition sheds light on our changing understanding of Viking identity.

The thought of this magnificent ship slicing through the freezing northern Atlantic waves – seen in a looping film at the end of the room – gives a shiver-inducing sense of what Viking travel must have been like.

- Mark Hudson, The Telegraph

Bringing together objects from multiple collections, the exhibition demonstrates the changing face of the Viking civilization between 800 and 1050 as it became exposed to influences across four continents. Swords, axes, looted hoards and even skeletons illustrate the violence at the heart of this warrior culture.

Above all though, it’s the maritime expertise of the Vikings that defined them as renowned pathfinders, and it’s in the final gallery that this is most celebrated with the presentation of the pièce de résistance; the excavated keel of the longest Viking warship ever discovered; the Roskilde 6.

The exhibition takes you into the heart of the Viking age, surrounding you with powerful voices reading passages in Old Norse from Viking sagas, overlaid with the sound of the ocean. On the furthest wall is projected film of wild sea, conjuring a vision of how bleak it must have been aboard the Roskilde 6 headed for battle.

As with all past British Museum exhibitions, Sysco worked very closely with the museum to ensure that all equipment used for the installation was both discreet and sympathetic to the vulnerable artifacts. Controls were fully automated to turn on and off at pre-determined times, creating a bespoke system designed for ease of use for museum staff.

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