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Vasa Museum

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Vasa Museum - diver with skull

LEFT: A diver holds the skull of a Vasa crew member during the 1961 recovery operation.

The final lift

In the morning sunshine of April 24, 1961, the final lift took place. Crowds gathered on the waterfront, just as they had 333 years earlier to witness the Vasa's maiden voyage. Hundreds of journalists from around the world were to cover the event, along with a brass band. At 9:03 a.m. precisely, the Vasa finally surfaced.

"It's a strange feeling to be transported back to he early 17th Century," Anders Franzén told a news reporter from Swedish Television as he stepped aboard the newly salvaged ship, the first person to do so since that fateful maiden voyage.

From seabed to museum

It took nearly 30 years for the Vasa to be preserved, restored, and displayed in a new museum. First, archaelogists and carpenters had to identify, catalog, and assemble some 14,000 wooden fragments that ranged from sculptures to deck planks. The museum finally opened in June, 1990. On the 10th anniversary of the Vasamuseet in 2000, the museum's press office wrote:

Its assymetrical forms are still without architectural equal. The interior juxtaposes hidden corners and huge open expanss. The floor, made from pine from the far north of Sweden, has borne up well under the millions of feet that have trodden it. The huge, soaring roof, 12000 square meters in area, is starting to acquire copper's characteristic green patina and, more and more, the whole building is beginning to blend in with its leafy surroundings on the island of Djurgĺrden in central Stockholm.

Work on the Vasa didn't stop after the ship went on display. Masts and rigging were reconstructed in the early 1990s, and the upper deck was rebuilt in 1998 and 1999. Researchers are now trying to determine the ship's original colors to complete the next phase of the restoration.

For more information on the ship and the Vasa Museum, along with a link to our Stockholm tourist information, see the next page.

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Photo courtesy of Anders Franzén and the Vasa Museum.

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