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The Vikings are coming

INITIAL MEDIA RELEASE Monday, 08 May 2006

The Vikings are coming

Auckland War Memorial Museum
21 July – 8 October

This major new exhibition at Auckland Museum tells the remarkable story of the Vikings, their culture, achievements and place in our imagination.

The Volvo Vikings exhibition opens on Friday 21 July and runs until Sunday 8 October. The Vikings treasure, artefacts and replicas have been assembled from around the world to reveal the story of these incredible navigators, explorers, warriors, traders and artists.

Over 1200 years ago the Vikings ranged out from their Scandinavian homelands – plundering, exploring and trading across the world from North America to Baghdad.

“It seems incredible, but their fiery exploits are still deeply ingrained in Western consciousness in the 21st century say’s Rodney Wilson, Director, Auckland War Memorial Museum. “The Vikings sagas were recorded sometime after the voyages, very little physical evidence remains and yet the vision of these, often, warlike people is still with us.”

The exhibition highlights the Viking instruments of war: spears, swords, axes, arrows, helmets and chain mail. And it explores what is considered their greatest achievement: the Viking ships; wooden double-ended shallow-draft vessels, powered by oars and sail.

In other areas Vikings considers more domestic facets of the Viking world: their social organisation, religious beliefs, family life, and personal qualities.

Archaeological discoveries will show that the more prosperous were surprisingly stylish, wearing comfortable, well-constructed clothing and shoes. Men and women wore jewellery, beautifully designed neck rings and arm bands in precious metals, brooches and superbly engraved pendants.

Star attractions will include two of the original Lewis Chessmen – world-renowned Viking-Age figures carved from walrus ivory and found on the Scottish Isle of Lewis in the 14th century. On display will be the King and a Berserker (a warrior in frenzy before battle, biting his shield in anticipation).

A host of domestic items will illuminate everyday life: an ornately carved whalebone ‘smoothing board’ for taking creases from clothing, kitchen utensils including an iron cauldron, soapstone bowl and dough trough, and personal belongings like a hair comb, scissors and keys.

The exhibition will be complimented by a full programme of lectures, children’s activities and re-enactment activities by members of the New Zealand Norsemen Society.

Vikings, produced by the Australian National Maritime Museum, is sponsored by Volvo cars, through local importer and distributor, Motorcorp Distributors Ltd. The iconic Swedish automobile has a long and rich history with a reputation for building among the very safest cars in the world, which are now complemented by the latest model's stylish good looks.

"The Vikings exhibition is a great fit with our brand," said Wallis Dumper, the Managing Director of Motorcorp Distributors. "The Vikings were pioneers in the Middle Ages and Volvo was a pioneer of many of the safety innovations we now take for granted in today’s cars."

ENDS

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