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    Mar 19, 2019

The Vikings Begin Exhibition, A Midwest Premiere at ASI, Runs Through October 27

The Vikings Begin Exhibition, a Midwest Premiere at American Swedish Institute, Runs Through October 27

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Vikings Begin, one of the American Swedish Institute’s most significant exhibitions to date, is the Midwest premiere of an extraordinary collection of early Viking boat burial artifacts on view in ASI’s Turnblad Mansion and Osher Gallery from May 17–October 27, 2019.  The magnificent installation features Viking helmets, swords, jewelry, glass vessels, bowls and other objects with historical significance, that tell stories about the people buried with them and the society they belonged to. The exhibition is on its first tour outside of Scandinavia and was produced by Sweden’s Uppsala University and its Gustavianum museum. It is informed by new research by prestigious University experts Neil Price, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson and John Ljungkvist that has led to deeper understandings about Viking culture. The Vikings Begin exhibition is presented by Viking® cruises.

The ASI exhibition opened with a full slate of events, from parties to scholarly talks on Thursday–Sunday, May 16–19.  For more information on upcoming programming, visit or by calling 612-871-4907.  ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis.

Around 1400 years ago, a man was buried in a boat at Valsgärde, a historic burial field north of Uppsala, Sweden. With him on the boat were weapons, household items, food, horses and dogs. He was not theirst to be buried on the site and more would follow in a similar fashion.  The graves were completely untouched when they were discovered, offering veritable time capsules filled with objects from the pre-Viking Vendel period (550-800 AD) and the Viking period (550-1050 AD).  Men and women of importance were buried in boats along with magnificent grave accoutrements, such as helmets, weapons, horse trappings, glass goblets, household goods and sacrificial animals. High status finds from the  Vendel period, decorated with gold, garnets and beautiful ornamentation, are displayed side-by-side with the Viking age’ simpler and more functional objects, decorated in silver. The objects came by way of trade and pillaging or as gifts exchanged between notables, illustrating an exciting period of contacts and influences.

The Vikings of Northern Europe—Sweden, Denmark and Norway—had a very close and important relationship to the sea. Theirs was an intensely maritime society. Through excellent craftsmanship in boat-building matched with navigational skills, they traveled long distances both East and West. The sea and the idea of traveling on water was also present in their religious beliefs. Thus, the greatest honor that a Viking—man or woman—could be bestowed was to be buried in a boat grave. The items buried with them not only mirror their status and interests, but tell tales of the world they inhabited; their social and economic makeup, symbolism and world-view.

The Vikings Begin exhibition, with objects, reconstructions and digital material to bring the story of the Vikings and their relationship to the world alive, is divided into thematic sections. These include  Viking warfare, maritime trade, a recreated ship burial, Norse gods, the Baltic Sea and geo-political relationships to other cultures, shedding new light on how early Viking society was organized, the role of women and the development of maritime innovation.

Gustavianum, Uppsala University museum, holds one of the world’s greatest collections of pre-Viking and Viking-age boat grave finds. This exhibition is drawn mostly from the remains of 15 boat graves at the Valsgärde site, with spectacular objects dating from around 650 to 1050 AD.

ASI’s 2019 programming reflects a mission of being a gathering place for all people to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts. In 2019, ASI highlights exhibitions and activities that connect and reflect the concept of Shift; a change in focus or perspective as seen through artists’ eyes, mostly focused on the natural world.

The  Vikings BeginRelated Programming throughout the Exhibition

Summer Lawn Parties at ASI

Thursdays June 6, July 11 & August 8, 7-10 p.m.

Lawn Party tickets: $15 ASI members / $20 non-members

These Vikings-themed, all-ages, after-hours gatherings on the outdoor ASI grounds and the Turnblad Mansion, feature the exhibition, music, hands-on activities, demonstrations and food and drinks from FIKA. Each night will end with an outdoor, dusk viewing of a different Viking film.

  • June 6 (see below)
  • July 11 with the Roe Family Singers and Knives of the Avenger film
  • August 8 with live music TBD and Outlander film

June's Lawn Party features:

  • Live music from the SlovCzech Band, who blends folk melodies with contemporary rock music 
  • Warp-weighted loom and nålbinding (“Viking knitting”) demonstrations by Melba Granlund
  • Viking games run by the Viking Encampment
  • Samples from Hammerheart Brewing
  • Outdoor film viewing of The Vikings (1958, directed by Richard Fleischer), a rousing epic about a slave, Eric (Tony Curtis), who is the heir to the Northumbrian throne. When his lineage is eventually revealed, Eric unites with his half-brother Einar (Kirk Douglas) to take back the crown.

As part of the Lawn Parties add on an Exhibition Tour with The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2)

Thursdays 5-6:30 p.m., June 6, July 11, August 8

See the Vikings Begin exhibition during one-of-a-kind interactive tours involving Viking-inspired games led by improv comedy performers from The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2).  With a complimentary beverage in hand, follow the troupe as they merge the art of improv with the art of ASI to further the fun understanding of the Vikings. $30 member / $35 non-member

Private Group Tours - The Vikings Begin

Book an exhibition tour for groups of family, friends, work colleagues, business contacts or more. Can also add on dining options. Email or call 612-871-4907.

Cocktails at the Castle

September 13, 7-11 p.m.

Celebrate all things Viking with ASI’s signature “museum party done right,” showcasing an array of Viking-themed activities indoors and out, from music and dancing to hands-on fun.  $17, $20, $25 at the door. 

Runic Studies Lecture

Friday, September 27

Dr. Henrik Williams, Chair, Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University, shares his expertise on runes and runic history.  Visit for more details.

Viking Archaeology Lecture

October 4-5

Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, Researcher in Archeaology, Uppsala University, shares her expertise on Vikings archaeology. Visit for more details.

For The Kids – Youth and Family

Kids at the Castle – Watch My Garden Grow!

Friday, June 21 & Saturday, June 22, 9-10 a.m.

In June, ASI’s monthly playdate for kids is inspired by the spring growing season, offering circle time, storytelling, crafts, visual play and music. $8 per family. No registration require

Viking Voyagers Preschool Camp

Four consecutive Wednesdays:  July 10, 17, 24 & 31;

Morning session from 8:45-11:15 a.m.; Afternoon session from 1-3:30 p.m.

$100 ASI member child / $125 non-member child

During these fun-filled educational day camps, children (ages 3-5) will use hands-on, inquiry-based learning to experience aspects of the Viking world.

Viking Day Camp

Thursdays:  July 11, July 25 & August 8, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

$50 ASI member child / $60 non-member child. Registration opens March 1.

Kids (grades 1-5) can pretend to sail away to the world of the Vikings in this popular and fun one-day camp. Build Viking ships, learn the geography of the Nordic region and discover the mystery of runestones.  Also consider: Vikings Birthday Parties at ASI, bookable Fridays-Sundays, 1-3 p.m.  Includes guided activities. From $200

Nordic Handcraft

  • June 7–8, Viking Posament Bracelet with Liz Bucheit. Found in Viking burials, elegant posament bracelets are made by braiding pewter thread and sewing it to a soft leather strip.
  • July 13-14, Hand Carved Wooden Bowls with Amy Umbel. Carve a Scandinavian-inspired dough bowl with old world designs using a hand-held adze, axe and gouge.
  • July 20, Dye Like a Viking – Exploring Natural Dyes in the Nordic Tradition with Theresa Hornstein. Learn how the Vikings added color to their life by dying textiles with flowers, leaves, roots and lichen.
  • August 24, Rune Carving in Stone with Janey Westin. Use a chisel, a mallet and the Norse runic alphabet to carve in limestone an important name or word in your life.

Language & Culture

How Do You Say Viking in Swedish?

June 21, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., July 20, 2-4 p.m., August 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

This family friendly workshop is for Swedish learners interested in learning vocabulary specific to The Vikings Begin. First, learn Vikings-related Swedish words and phrases, and then go into the exhibition to practice.

Related activities will continue throughout the exhibitions. For more information, visit or call 612-871-4907.

Previous Programming

First Look: The Vikings Begin — Exhibition Preview Party
Thursday, May 16: Media Preview 5-6 p.m., Public event, doors 6:30 p.m., party 7–10 p.m.
Get an advance look at the exhibition during First Look—The Vikings Begin preview party featuring mini-lectures from visiting Vikings scholars Neil Price, the researcher behind the new findings on Viking society, and Gísli Sigurðsson, Icelandic Saga scholar from the University of Iceland, Reykjavik. The party continues with music from Moon Ruin, mead tastings from Urban Forage, ceremonial skål songs and Vikings-related dances. FIKA’s award-winning food and libations, inspired by the Vikings theme, complete the evening. Tickets go on sale April 1 for ASI members and April 8 to the general public. $15 ASI members, $20 non-members.

Nordic Table Dinner Series—The Vikings Begin

Friday, May 17, Saturday, May 18, 6:30 p.m.

As part of ASI’s Nordic Table program, these unique culinary events showcase the talents of FIKA Executive Chef Blake Meier and his award-winning team as they prepare and serve a meal fit for a Viking.  Check for reservations and pricing.

Kids at the Castle – Vikings!

Friday, May 17 & Saturday, May 18, 9-10 a.m.

In May,  ASI’s monthly playdate for kids is inspired by The Vikings Begin offering circle time, storytelling, crafts, visual play and music. $8 per family. No registration required.

Nordic Table: Nordic Food is Viking Food

Friday, May 17, 1-7 p.m.

Mia-Louise Sellerup of Denmark’s Ribe Viking Center will share recipes in 10th-century style recreated as part of her ongoing research around Viking-era foodways. Apply authentic techniques to grains, produce, meats and fish to create a shared, celebratory meal. Introduction by host Lee Svitak Dean, Taste Editor, Star Tribune, the exhibition media sponsor. $85 ASI members / $95 non-members

Viking University Day

Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This special day of lectures highlights recent Vikings research related to The Vikings Begin exhibition. Expert speakers include Professor Neil Price, visiting Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the pre-Viking and Viking ages and whose research helped guide this exhibition. Price is joined by Icelandic Saga scholar Gísli Sigurðsson, Research Professor, Department of Folkloristics, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Mia-Louise Sellerup of the Ribe VikingeCenter, Denmark, and Anatoly Liberman and Lena Norrman from the Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch at the University of Minnesota. Check for details and pricing.

Viking Family Day

Sunday, May 19, 12-5 p.m.

Celebrate the opening weekend of The Vikings Begin with a day for all ages! Children and their important adults can roam the exhibition, attend “Viking University Jr.” (storytime) with Gisli Sigurdsson, explore a re-enacted  Viking encampment with the River Ravens, play kubb, make drop-in crafts and view the Swedish family film Halvdan Viking. Included with museum admission.

ASI MUSEUM HOURS:  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–5 p.m.; closed Monday.

Museum Admission: $12 adults, $8 ages 62 +, $6 ages 6–18 and full-time students with ID. Free for ASI members and children ages 5 and under.                             

FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday:  8:30 a.m. –5 p.m.; Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m.  Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The ASI MUSEUM STORE is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. –5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. –8 p.m.  Sunday,  Noon-5 p.m.

THE AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE (ASI) is a vibrant arts and cultural organization, museum and historic home located at 2600 Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis.  ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden.  The Wall Street Journal called ASI “[a] model of how a small institution can draw visitors through exciting programming.” For tickets, visit or call 612-871-4907.

About Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum

Uppsala’s largest university museum cares for the University’s magnificent collections of archaeological objects, coins, art, historic scientific instruments, and much more. Our role has three main dimensions: our museum building, Gustavianum, is a place for collaboration between the University and the rest of society; our exhibitions and program of events are inspired by, and reflect, the University’s collections and research at Uppsala University; and

we ensure that our collections are accessible for research and teaching at the University and other institutes of higher education, not just in Sweden but also in other countries. In addition, we endeavor to be a resource for the careers and competence development of University students, through our work experience placements and by offering part-time employment in various parts of the organization. For more information, please visit


About Viking® (

Viking was founded in 1997 with the purchase of four ships in Russia. Designed for discerning travelers with interests in science, history, culture and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. In its first three years of operation, Viking has been rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s 2016, 2017 and 2018 “World’s Best” Awards. Viking currently operates a fleet of 68 vessels, offering scenic cruising on rivers and oceans around the world. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by Cruise Critic as “Best Overall” Small-Mid size ship in the 2018 Cruisers’ Choice Awards, “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or visit

This exhibition is produced by the Gustavianum Museum, Uppsala University, and is presented by Viking® ( Lead support is provided by Svenska Sällskapet, Värde Partners, Vikings Museum (Minnesota Vikings) and Swedish Council of America. Major support is provided by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Karin Larson, Ron and Carla Monson in honor of the Växjö Vikings, Charles and Myrna Smith, and ASI’s members and donors. ASI’s hotel partner is the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot. The exhibition’s media partner is the Star Tribune.


vikings begin exhibition sponsors
Vikings Begin - lead sponsors

Minnesota artist activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.

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