We went a Viking

One of the things I love about living in a new area is exploring the places that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. We found one of those places yesterday. I had seen a notice on one of the homeschooling pages I belong to about a field trip to see the Viking ship in Geneva. First, I thought, "A Viking ship in Geneva? Who knew?" My second was, "That's so cool!" and signed up.

So, yesterday morning, through heavy rain, we went to see the Viking ship. I had no idea what to expect, and really, other than it was a reproduction of a Viking ship, I didn't know anything about it. I am now more than a little fascinated by the whole story.

In 1880, a 9th century Viking ship was uncovered in a farmer's field in Norway. It is known as the Gokstad Ship, and is on display in Oslo. It was also the model for the reproduction Viking ship which was made, and then sailed, from Norway to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Named 'Viking, she was, according to our docents yesterday morning, the most visited exhibit at the Exposition. After moving from Chicago to New Orleans, and then back to Chicago, she spent time at the Museum of Science and Industry and then at the Lincoln Park Zoo. When the zoo wanted to expand, they requested someone take the ship, which is how it ended up in Geneva, the Fox Valley having quite a large Scandinavian population.

The Friends of the Viking Ship raise money to help preserve the ship, and offer docent-led tours. They sell a book written by one of the crew on the trip from Norway to Chicago. I would have bought it yesterday, if so many people hadn't needed to use the restroom. (I will probably order it, because I am more than a little fascinated by the ship and her story.)

The tour was great. I have been on a lot of docent-led tours, and they can be all over the board. The two men who led our did a great job, were knowledgeable, and did not talk down to the children, nor show surprise at either the homeschooling or the wide age range. (Trust me, some docents just can't get over these two things, and fixate on them for the entire tour.) The only difficulty was the rain was so loud on the roof of the temporary building which houses the ship, that it was sometimes hard to hear.

We had a tour of the ship itself, and an introduction to the Vikings as a people. They even had swords and armor for the children to touch and hold. I think holding the swords is probably what most of my children will remember.

D. with a spear

R. is holding an arrow

L. is in the helmet on the left

The dragon head and tail are not on the ship any longer, and we were told they are in the Museum of Science and Industry. I actually wrote to the museum asking where we could see them, because I really want to.
P. has raised a not-inconsequential sum of money for her gap year program, though she still has a considerable way to go. Thank you to everyone who has donated and shared her page. Keep sharing!

Phoebe Curry Go Fund Me


Marge Stromberg said…
We had a friend who worked hard to bring that ship to Geneva.
I discovered Scandinavian ancestry through DNA testing, so I made a point of seeing the Viking exhibit at the Utah Natural History Museum when we were there last summer.

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