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photo: VisitOslo

Norway’s most popular exhibits may collapse

Experts fear that the Viking ships at Bygdøy, which see half a million visitors a year, could break apart without funding.

The famous Viking ships at Bygdøy, Norway’s most visited museum with half a million visitors a year, have failed to win financial support in the new state budget, leading to fears they could collapse.

Damage has been detected over the last year on both the Gokstad ship and the Oseberg ship, and this summer emergency support was needed on Gokstad as parts of the hull began to sag.

Conservation experts believe that both of the former Viking vessels need immediate funding secured to avoid further deterioration next summer.

The ships that are so central to Norway’s heritage will slowly break down and eventually collapse if no cash is found to prevent it, warns the University of Oslo, which is responsible for their care.

“We have long known that we must do something to save the Viking era in a proper way for the future. The damage detected this summer tells us that time means everything,” explains Håkon Glørstad, the director of the Viking Ship Museum, in a statement.

Political decision
The decision not to give further support to the ships, he believes, is a political decision by the Jeløya Platform, an initiative launched by the government earlier this year.

“They came with promises to set money aside for museums in Norway. So it is amazing that the government has chosen to disregard the information that the ships are at risk of destruction and do not take responsibility for securing Norway’s most iconic cultural heritage for posterity,” Glørstad protests.

The university says that NOK 5 million (€530,000) promised to the research project Saving Oseberg II will continue in 2019, but it believes that this will not solve urgent needs in the preservation work. Plans were also released two years ago for the construction of a new building to house the ships.

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