Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

The Vasa Museum is a Swedish state museum at Galärvarvet on Södra Djurgården in Stockholm. Since 15 June 1990, the museum has housed the royal ship Vaasa, is part of the State’s Maritime and Transport History Museums, and is located within the Royal National City Park. The Vasa Museum is one of Scandinavia’s most visited museums. It is here that you will find in all its glory, the unique and the only almost fully intact 17th century well preserved warship Vasa from 1628. Unfortunately, due to unreasonable design, the 64-gun warship embellished with hundreds of wooden sculptures, that sank on her maiden voyage.

The Vasa Museum opened in 1990 and, according to the official web site, is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. Together with other museums such as the Stockholm Maritime Museum, it belongs to the Swedish National Maritime Museums (SNMM). Around 1.5 million visitors every year enjoy the exhibitions in the museum, which describe the warship Vasa’s history and life at the time; how, after 333 years at the bottom of Stockholm bay, the ship was rediscovered and salvaged; and the research which is now underway to preserve Vasa.

The Vasa Museum is a part of the Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums, together with the Maritime Museum and Vrak – Museum of Wrecks in Stockholm, the Naval Museum in Karlskrona and the Railway Museum in Gävle. The agency’s mission is to preserve and develop the maritime and transport history cultural heritage and to increase people’s knowledge about it.

Vasa is a real treasure from the 17th century that offers us a rich history, from the work at the Ship Yard to life on board a warship. The Vasa Museum houses the 17th-century ship Regalskeppet Vasa, which was salvaged in 1961 after the wreck was discovered by Anders Franzén and he ran a long-term campaign to salvage it. At first, Vaasa was shown in a temporary building, called “Wasavarvet”, a bit south of the current museum building.

History
Gustav II Adolf (1594-1632) was the son of King Karl IX and Kristina of Holstein-Gottorp. His grandfather was Gustav I, or Gustav Vasa as he is often called today, the first King of the Vasa dynasty. When Gustav Adolf acceded to the throne in 1611, he inherited three wars: with Russia, Denmark and Poland. The situation was difficult, to say the least. Gustav Adolf was at war during 18 of the 21 years of his reign, both wars he inherited and wars he sought.

At the same time, Sweden was developing very quickly. Gothenburg was the largest of several new towns established in these years. Uppsala University was refounded. Under Gustav Adolf’s direction, much was done to organise the country that still affects us today. The Swedish bureaucracy was born.

Gustav Adolf’s cousin Sigismund was the king of Poland-Litauen. He had also been king of Sweden 1592-1599, but was deposed, partly because of his Catholic faith. He, and many others in Europe, thought that he was the rightful king of Sweden. The conflict between the cousins stirred up strong feelings. Gustav Adolf was committed to protecting the Lutheran confession, and his wars in the name of religion expanded Sweden’s borders and laid the foundations for Sweden as a great power.

For decades, new ships for the Swedish navy had been built all over the country, near the forests where the raw materials grew. After 1618, Gustav II Adolf began to concentrate this far-flung but important activity in just a handful of shipyards. The most important of these, the centre for maintenance and new construction, was the navy yard in Stockholm. Men were recruited to expand the workforce, and the king embarked on a program of shipbuilding, hoping to add two new ships to the navy every year, renewing and enlarging the navy as part of his program of military and territorial expansion.

Vasa the royal warship
Vasa is a machine of war, carried 64 cannon when she set off on her maiden voyage in August 1628, but eight of the gunports were empty; which is because the navy yard could build a ship faster than the royal gun foundry could cast its guns. The main armament was 48 24-pounders, powerful bronze cannon that fired round shot weighing ten kilograms each. The upper deck carried smaller cannon: eight 3-pounders (1.25 kg) and six stormstycken, short, thin-walled guns for firing anti-personnel ammunition at short range. The cannons could fire 250 kilograms of ammunition in a single broadside, and when the heavy iron shot left the muzzles, they travelled near the speed of sound.

Vasa was the most powerfully armed ship in the Baltic, if not the world, a floating fortress to be feared from Reval to Copenhagen. The cannon on either side of the ship could fire a broadside of 250 kilograms (not counting the stormstycken), around four times as much as the typical Swedish warship of the 1620s, and twice as much as the largest ships in other northern European navies. Had she been able to carry sail, Vasa would have been a fast ship, and this combination of speed and firepower could have been devastating.

Vasa represents a conflict within the Swedish navy over how warships should be used. Traditional officers believed that the deciding moment of a sea battle came in boarding and capturing the enemy, since it was better to take an enemy ship into the Swedish fleet than destroy it. They wanted a ship which could carry a large crew, armed with pikes and axes, and cannon were only used to disable a ship and demoralize its crew.

Gustav Adolf, who was a keen artillerist, saw a future in which sea battles would be artillery duels. For him, the cannon was the primary armament, and so he preferred more guns and bigger guns. He ordered a number of ships like Vasa, big and heavily armed, but almost all of these orders were cancelled after he died, as the navy did not want such ships.

Vasa carried a large armament, but it also carried a large crew, two thirds of them soldiers, who could man the guns but who could also be used to overwhelm an enemy in a boarding action. Among the artefacts found in the ship are not only the cannon, but boarding axes, short, tomahawk-like weapons which could be used both for clearing obstructions and in hand-to-hand combat.

Sinking disaster
It was the 10th of August 1628, when Vasa, the most powerful warship in the Baltic, foundered in Stockholm harbour before the eyes of a large audience, scant minutes after setting sail for the first time. Vasa cast off from the palace between four and five o’clock. Perhaps musicians struck up a suitably martial tune. Because the wind was from the south, the ship had to be warped with the help of anchors along the waterfront to the other end of the city island, to the place now called Slussen. Here, she could pick up the current that would take her down the harbour. As the ship found the current, the last warp was cast off, Vasa was freed from the land, four of the ten sails were set, and a salute was fired.

There was little wind under the bluffs of Södermalm, not even enough to pull the sheets of the sails taught, and Vasa drifted on the current, not answering her helm. A small gust filled the sails, and the ship heeled to port, but slowly, agonizingly recovered. As the ship passed the gap in the bluffs at Tegelviken, a much stronger gust pushed the ship so far over on its port side that water poured in through the open gunports on the lower gundeck. Vasa began to sink.

The sailing ceremony included a gun salute. Probably out of convenience, the fact that Captain Söfring Hansson allowed the gun ports to remain open when Vasa set off was a deadly decision, if they had been closed, water could not have poured in, and the ship might have survived long enough to be rebuilt into a more stable configuration.

Vasa is new kind of ships in 1628, with a different size and armament than any ship before, so the ship designer had no way to calculate a proposed ship’s performance in advance. The problem is that the upperworks of the hull are too tall and heavily built for the relatively small amount of hull below the waterline. This might have made the ship fast, but it put the centre of gravity too far above the water, so even a light breeze could heel the ship alarmingly.

Such ships were said to be tender or crank, and there were accepted methods for fixing the problem. Armament could be revised, extra planking could be added at the waterline, or the ship could be reduced in height by removing a deck. Unfortunately for Vasa did not survive long enough to be improved.

Before Vasa sailed (probably on the 8th or 9th of July), Captain Söfring had arranged for Vice Admiral Klas Fleming, Gyllenhielm’s deputy, to witness a simulated sailing test demonstration, in which thirty men ran back and forth over the upper deck to make the ship roll. After just a few trips, the ship was heeling so badly that there was great fear it might capsize at the quay. The simulation was interrupted. Still, there was not report to the king the worrying thing he had seen.

Already the day after Vasa sank, the Council of State started looking for the responsible parties, but nobody was ever punished for one of the greatest disasters of Sweden’s Great Power Era. Perhaps the most interesting part of the inquest from a technical point of view is an appendix at the end, recording the opinions of a group of professional experts, captains and shipwrights. Vasa was badly designed, the ship did not have enough “belly” to carry the high and heavy upperworks.

Salvage
Due to technological advancement, Vasa finally rose from the deep after 333 years in darkness. Determining the location of the sunken ship is more difficult than expected. Per Edvin Fälting and Sven Persson had confirmed on 4 September, 1956 that the small plugs of wood in Anders Franzén’s corer came from a ship. Feeling their way in the dark, every step kicking up a swirling mass of silt, they had established that a large ship with two tiers of gunports, intact to the point that one mast was still standing, lay on the bottom of Stockholm harbour.

How to salvage a huge wooden sunken ship without damaging its complete structure has become a technical problem. Between 1957 and 1959, navy divers dug six tunnels under Vasa and pulled massive steel cables through them to suspend the ship in a basket. These cables were taken to two floating pontoons, named Oden and Frigg, at the surface. By pumping the pontoons almost full of water, then tightening the cables and pumping the water back out, Vasa could be broken free of the mud and lifted and moved into shallower water.

As the divers dug with high-pressure waterjets and dredges, they encountered a fascinating array of finds that had fallen off the ship, from rigging hardware to gunport lids, and the first of more than seven hundred finely carved sculptures. They also found the mainmast lying next to the ship, and the ship’s longboat.

On 20 August 1959, all was ready for the initial lift. For more than 18 months, a small team of commercial divers plugged holes where bolts had rusted away, fitted covers over the open gunports, and rebuilt the bow and stern to make them watertight. Steel rods were fastened across the hull to help hold it together. It was also important to make the ship lighter. The central part of the upper gundeck, which was covered with mud and debris, was cleared. More than a thousand objects were found: coins, personal belongings, gun carriages, tools and the bones of five people who had been on board when the Vasa foundered..

On Monday, 24 April 1961, when the tops of a few eroded frames peeked out of the water. Soon, the carved heads of four warriors emerged, followed by the outline of the whole ship at last. It really was a ship, come back from the dead, a sensation. Even today, many still remember where they were when Vasa rose from the deep.

Much remained to be done. Thousands of tons of mud and water had to be pumped out of the hull to refloat it, and the ship had to be moved onto a pontoon of its own, where it could be excavated and conserved. Archaeologists had to come on board to excavate the interior, and conservators had to begin the arduous process of treating the ship so it would not shrink and crack. Diver would spend five more years recovering thousands of loose pieces of the beakhead, sterncastle and upper deck, which lay around the hole where the ship had been, together with the ship’s longboat and anchors.

During salvage, the ship was being sprayed around the clock with cold, fresh water to keep it from drying out. The mud was removed from the decks with garden hoses and spray nozzles, washing it down into the bottom of the hull. As the mud and silt flowed away, it revealed an astonishing array of artefacts lying heaped on the decks. Each object was carefully registered, with its find place recorded, and given a unique find number before being taken ashore and placed in water-filled tanks to await conservation. Finding enough tanks for thousands of artefacts proved a challenge.

During these five months, the team recovered more than 30,000 objects from Vasa. These consisted of virtually everything that had been on board when the ship sank, except for the guns and debris salvaged in the 1660s. Gun carriages stood at their gunports, sailors’ chests full of their belongings were stacked towards the bow on both gundecks, barrels of salted meat, now reduced to bones, were found in the hold, along with hundreds of cannonballs.

Huge coils of anchor cable filled the forward hold, and the officers’ possessions, such as pewter plates, hunting rifles, and a gilt brass table clock, were found in the cabins. Over 4,000 coins, all of them small denomination pocket change, were found in chests and in the pockets of the clothes worn by eleven human skeletons found on the decks. Among the most remarkable finds were two large heaps in a locker on the orlop, which proved to be the carefully folded remains of six of Vasa’s sails plus the sails for the longboat, still tied up as they had been delivered from the sailmaker in 1627.

Even after Vasa was raised, work continued at the site of the sinking. Many objects had fallen from the rigging or become detached from the hull and fallen into the mud outside the ship. From 1963-1967, divers surveyed the Pit, as it was known, and recovered thousands more objects. These included many sculptures, the collapsed beakhead and upper sterncastle, the upper parts of the foremast and mainmast, the ship’s anchors and the longboat, a substantial vessel nearly 12 metres long and weighing over three tonnes, which proved to have another, smaller boat inside it. Four more skeletons were found in the wreckage of the stern galleries.

By the time all of the excavation and diving was complete, over 40,000 objects had been found, including almost all of the parts of the ship itself which had fallen off over the years. It would prove possible to reconstruct Vasa completely, inside and out, and to know something of the people who made up the crew, their possessions, and their lives.

Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum’s former premises were called “Wasavarvet” and were a temporary museum building west of Liljevalch’s art gallery, about 300 meters south of the current museum building. As early as 1959, two years before Vaasa’s final salvage, design began for the building designed by Hans Åkerblad and co-worker Björn Howander, which was completed in 1961. Two parallel low-rise buildings containing exhibits and staff were built on land. Across a pontoon in Saltsjön was the shell of the royal ship Vasa.

The current museum building was built after a Nordic architectural competition, which was won by Månsson & Dahlbäck Arkitektkontor (shared first prize with a Danish proposal). The building was placed across Stockholm’s naval shipyard’s large dry dock from 1878. Vaasa is located in the dock itself. The museum was built by NCC and inaugurated on June 15, 1990 by King Carl XVI Gustaf. In the same year, the building was awarded the Kasper Salin Prize.

The wasa yard was built in glass and concrete with exterior walls in blue shimmering corrugated aluminum sheet. The roof was supported by prefabricated concrete beams and had light inlets, as did the facades. The roof had a markedly arched silhouette, which was raised in stages as more and more details on the ship came into place and the ship increased in height.

Exteriorly, the building displays a mixture of wood panels in different directions, which are colored in falu red, black, blue, brown and yellow. The copper roof consists of composite pulpit roofs with different heights and directions. Across the entrance is a pointed concrete structure that is reminiscent of the ship’s bow.

Inside, the use of natural materials, such as floorboards made of soapy wood, continues. The exterior color scheme reappears inside the house, painted on wood paneling or directly on the concrete. Large wall sections and the entire roof are made of untreated concrete. The lighting is dim, and it takes a while to get used to the darkness. The ship can be viewed from six different planes. The interior height of the exhibition hall is 34 meters, which made it possible to relocate Vasa’s standing rig. The total area is 12,700 m².

The main hall contains the ship itself, and various exhibits related to the archaeological findings of the ships and early 17th-century Sweden. Vasa has been fitted with the lower sections of all three masts, a new bowsprit, winter rigging, and has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted and are therefore clearly visible against the original material that has been darkened after three centuries under water.

During the first years, the ship was without masts and lacked decks. The spectators had access to a wet position around the ship, at the same time as this was wrapped in a mist of preservatives. This first facility was mainly demolished at the end of 1988, after Vaasa made its last trip to the current museum building. In 1991, the former museum site Aquaria water museum and Alkärrshallen opened in Vaasa, which include certain parts of the former temporary museum building.

The new museum is dominated by a large copper roof with stylized masts that represent the actual height of Vasa when she was fully rigged. Parts of the building are covered in wooden panels painted in dark red, blue, tar black, ochre yellow and dark green. The interior is similarly decorated, with large sections of bare, unpainted concrete, including the entire ceiling. Inside the museum the ship can be seen from six levels, from her keel to the very top of the sterncastle. Around the ship are numerous exhibits and models portraying the construction, sinking, location and recovery of the ship. There are also exhibits that expand on the history of Sweden in the 17th century, providing background information for why the ship was built. A movie theatre shows a film in alternating languages on the recovery of the Vasa.

The museum also features four other museum ships moored in the harbour outside: the ice breaker Sankt Erik (launched 1915), the lightvessel Finngrundet (1903), the torpedo boat Spica (1966) and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson (1944).

Exhibitions
The Vasa Museum’s exhibitions tell in different ways about the ship, the time in which she was built and her recent history.

Vasa Up Close
Vasa was as much a floating palace as a sailing vessel and war machine. The Vasa Up Close exhibition provides deeper understanding of the sculptures, what they looked like and, not least, what they symbolised and the messages they sent.

Vasa has 460 sculptures and over 300 ornaments. The sculptures make no sound, yet speak many languages. There were many different nationalities in Stockholm in the 17th century, and few could read. Naturally, the intention was also for other countries to be able to understand the sculptures’ message about the Swedish king’s courage and power. Several of the sculptures are based on biblical stories, others on ancient myths.

A selection of Vasa sculpture reconstructions is presented in the Vasa Up Close exhibition, all of which can be seen in the original on the ship. The exhibition also includes a digital production which delves deeper into the sculptures and provides a better understanding of how Vasa worked as a sailing vessel and warship.

Painted in bright colours and with several hundred sculptures, Vasa was a colossal work of art that would make the rest of Europe admire and fear King Gustav II Adolf. An advertising campaign from seventeenth-century Sweden with an enormous budget. Vasa was not just a warship; it was also intended to be a grand display window for Sweden and King Gustav II Adolf. There were over 700 sculptures and decorations on the ship. The splendour aimed at impressing spectators, but also carried a clear message. The sculptures were supposed to convey that Gustav II Adolf was the rightful king and that he had God on his side.

On both sides of the beakhead, a projecting platform at the bow, sat a total of twenty sculptures of Roman emperors, with the figurehead – a three-meter long lion – ahead of them. The lion holds the coat of arms of the Vasa dynasty in its front paws. The lion on the beakhead also symbolised the Roman emperor Augustus. The intended message was that Gustav II Adolf was an heir to the emperors of the Roman Empire, and was going to build his own empire. The transom, all the way at the stern of the ship, was teeming with sculptures. At its top was a sculpture depicting Gustav II Adolf in his youth, holding his arms over his people. Below this were the Swedish coat of arms and the biblical Gideon, with his warriors. The story is taken from the Old Testament in the Bible, and tells of how Gideon saved the Israelites by defeating the large invading army of the Midianites with a force of only 300 men.

Further down on the transom was another biblical figure, David, known both for killing the giant Goliath and for becoming a wise king. Both Gideon and David were heroes well known by the Swedish people and were seen as the evidence that it was possible to defeat a superior enemy, if you had God on your side. On the transom are also two sculptures depicting Hercules, the hero of Greek and Roman mythology, who performed twelve great labours. He symbolized characteristics such as strength, bravery, energy and wisdom.

On Vasa, there were sculptures from Greek and Roman mythology, the Old Testament, and the Roman Empire. Others depicted actual or fictional persons from Swedish history, and armed warriors with suits of armour. But the ship was also adorned with things like lions, mermaids, angels, monsters and devils.

The Vasa Model
The Vasa model, in full colourful glory, is on display in the ship’s hall. A painted model of the Vasa in scale 1:10 gives the visitor an idea of how the ship might have looked as she sailed out in 1628. The model was built by four model builders at the Maritime Museum in Stockholm. The work took 12,000 hours and the model was in place in the ship’s hall when the museum opened in 1990. The model is adorned with over 500 sculptures. On the basis of this intensive research, visitors to the Vasa Museum, in the spring of 2008, were able to view the gradual clothing in colour of the model, as it was painted in accordance with the original plan.

The Power and the Glory
In the exhibition The Power and the Glory we get a glimpse of how the Vasa looked in colour as she sailed out in Stockholm harbour. After twelve years of examination, approximately 1200 microscopic fragments of colour have been analysed and interpreted. About fifteen key pieces of sculpture have been reconstructed to show how they were originally painted.

When the sculptures and other ornamentation were completed, they were painted and some parts gilded. From 1990 to 2002, conservator and art historian Peter Tångeberg researched how Vasa had been painted. Approximately 1200 colour samples from the ship were analysed, and the results are fascinating: Vasa was a very colourful ship when she embarked on her maiden voyage in 1628. The sculptures were painted in numerous strong colours, with abundant use of gold leaf.

Most of the hull was tarred, which gave it a red-brown tint. But a large part of Vasa was painted bright red: the bulwarks, (the upper parts of the ship’s sides), the transom, the quarter galleries and the sides of the beakhead. The railings and prominent mouldings were bright orpale yellow. Vasa was not camouflaged to fade into the background. The exact opposite applied: the ship would be impossible to miss. The word did not exist in the Swedish language in the 1600s, but Vasa was a gigantic billboard for Sweden and Gustav II Adolf.

The exhibition also contains a slide show on eight large screens which places the sculptures from the Vasa in their historical context. The story begins with Bronze Age rock carvings and develops with the ships of the great seafaring nations in northern Europe, Spain, England and Holland.

In the 17th century ship decoration reached its greatest height. For Sweden, sparsely populated and unknown, and for Gustav II Adolf with his ambitions for a great empire, it was important to show that we were as mighty as other countries. The Vasa’s sculptures would demonstrate a powerful nation with strong political and military resources.

Life on board
In Life on board retrieved objects from the Vasa are exhibited, and we can form a picture of everyday life on a warship including clothes, food and illness. The exhibition includes a full-scale model of a part of the upper gun deck which visitors may enter, and a section model of the Vasa’s interior showing men.

The commanders’ utensils and containers were made of pewter, glass and imported pottery. This contrasted sharply with the crew’s simple wooden objects. One of the sailor’s chests found during the excavation has been given its own display case. When the lid was lifted, everything lay there exactly as it had been packed by some sailor 333 years previously.

Face to face
In the exhibition Face to Face a number of people emerge from the past. They all share the fact that they were aboard the Vasa on the 10th August 1628, and followed it down to the deep. The exhibition Face to Face describes osteological and archaeological research, but also allows us the possibility of a ‘fantasy meeting’ with some of the individuals from the Vasa in a film, and through six facial reconstructions. The exhibition also includes a sound chamber where you can listen to fragments of citations from the time of the Vasa, including material from the court-hearing records.

Vasa’s Women
In the exhibition on the women of Vasa, visitors have the opportunity to learn about important but previously unknown narratives on Vasa. The researchers’ work reveals a partially new and surprising image of the living conditions of women during the early part of the 17th century. By means of these four women, the exhibition focuses on the role of 17th century women in society at a time when they had more power and influence than that narrated by traditional historiography.

Meet Margareta Nilsdotter, the head and property manager of the Stockholm shipyard who, after her husband’s death, assumed responsibility for the construction of Vasa and Skeppsgården, one of the largest workplaces in the country at the time. Get to know Brita Gustavsdotter Båth, the landowner and wood supplier at Ängsö Castle who sold timber to the shipyard where Vasa was constructed.

Meet Ylva and Beata who were on board Vasa at the time she sank. The sea was not only a sphere for men; women also participated in all possible maritime activities. According to researchers, Beata was on board as a guest. She might have been the sister or wife of a crew member. On the other hand, Ylva most probably remained on board for a bit longer.

Battle!
In this exhibition, you can see the arsenal of weapons and accoutrements found on board Vasa. Vasa never showed her strength in battle, but she was a fearsome machine of war. By following the crew through five acts, from conscription to training to fighting and death, you can experience how it was before, during and after a sea battle around 1628.

The commanders’ orders to the crew form the overarching theme of the exhibition. You can also feel the form and weight of the different weapons and see how they were used. In this way you will have your own experience of the officers’ and crew’s equipment: orders and weapons.

The presence of the enemy can be felt, in sculptures on board the ship and in propaganda images in the exhibition. The short distances between friend and enemy, life and death were clear in battle. The damage and wounds caused by weapons, the crew’s movements in battle, can be felt.

The Stockholm Shipyard
The stockholm ship yard describes how ships were built in the 1620s. Sweden’s largest shipyard at that time was worked by 400 people, probably the largest workplace in the country at the time. A model shows the intensive activity in the spring of 1627. Raised on her bed of supports the Vasa is almost ready to be launched. Woodworkers of all sorts dominate the work. One can make out sawyers, turners, platform makers and mast makers, carpenters, painters, sculptors, sail makers, rope makers, anchor smiths, blacksmiths, nail smiths, and a fine smith. The shipyard also employs a master glassworker, a tar-spreader and a nail bearer.

Other models are also included in this exhibition, such as the Vasa at different stages of construction. A series of images describe the art of shipbuilding from searching for suitable timber to applying the rigging. Shipbuilding was not a science as now but an art. A ship was built from accumulated experience.

The Salvaging
This exhibition relates the stages in the salvage of the Vasa, from its rediscovery by Anders Franzén in 1956 to its resurfacing in 1961. The exhibition describing the process of salvaging, shows Anders Franzéns’ own homemade sounding device together with other material which helped him in his search for the Vasa.

A diorama shows part of the Vasa’s hull as it lay on the sea bottom. A faint light penetrates the depths from above, to show a diver at work. The salvage process is also illustrated in a series of models of the wreck: broken on the bottom of the sea, the first tentative lift in 1959, and breaking the surface in 1961.

Preserve Vasa
The Exhibition Preserve Vasa relates the story of Vasa’s conservation, and the present measures to preserve the ship for the future. Vasa lay in the grimy waters outside Stockholm for 333 years before she was salvaged in 1961, and began her career as a museum item. After all these years in the water the ship was attacked by bacteria, and rust had spread throughout the hull from all the iron objects that had wasted away. Vasa was slowly decomposing, and is still doing so today, owing to a number of different factors.

The exhibition describes the high-tech fight against natural forces which is ongoing, and all that Vasa has gone through, since capsizing in 1628. What happened at the bottom of the sea? What happened when she was taken up? What does the future hold? What do the scientists say? A time-line shows the work on research and conservation. This time line has no end and fades out to leave room for new discoveries and activities in the future. The Vasa museum receives over a million visitors each year which exposes the ship to great stress. The museum is conducting world-leading research into how to counteract these decomposition processes.

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