27 January 2009

What About That Viking Ship I've Heard So Much About...?

Research is underway to actuately chronicle the life of the viking boat that sailed from Kirkland to Seattle for Norway Day, August 31, 1909. Olaf Kvamme, a local historian and long time member of the Nordic Heritage Museum, has been conducting this research which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Museum's Nordic Journal. You can see a short clip of a film taken in 1909 when the boat arrived at the AYP landing.

The actual viking boat is 'no longer around' but the Nordic Spirit is a Norwegian fishing boat constructed 150 to 200 years ago does exist. It was donated to the Nordic Heritage Museum in the 1980s, it sat unused until 2008, when museum supporters set out to refurbish it for the 100th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 2009. Read more about the ship at The Nordic Spirit blog.

"The Nordic Spirit is a late 18th- or 19th-century fishing boat from the northern fjords of Norway. It was given to the Nordic Heritage Museum by Volvo-Penta of America in 1980, after serving as an outreach tool for the Swedish company. In the early 1960s Volvo reimagined the vessel and outfitted it with Viking-style embellishments.

Today, the Nordic Heritage Museum believes that the next life of the Nordic Spirit should begin in the spring of 2009, with its display at such events as the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day (May 17), the Northwest Folklife festival, and the Ballard Seafood Festival, culminating with the centennial celebration of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYP), to occur late in the
summer of 2009. The restored Nordic Spirit will reenact the sailing of the Viking, which opened Norway Day at the AYP Exposition in 1909. The celebration of Nordic participation will be a major component of next year’s centennial retrospective. Held on the University of Washington campus, the 1909 AYP attracted 3.7 million visitors to Seattle's first World's Fair and showcased
Washington State as an international city.

The Nordic Heritage Museum recognizes the restoration of the Nordic Spirit as a way to both honor the past and inspire current and future generations. The restored Nordic Spirit will be a testament to the tradition of Scandinavian shipbuilding and adaptive reuse. The vessel has already had two lives: as a Norwegian coastal fishing boat in the late 18th or 19th century, and as an interpretive reproduction in the mid-20th century. Much-needed restoration of the vessel will enhance its current role as an educational object for the Museum’s ongoing cultural programs."

Local newspapers have published stories about the past, present and future life of the Nordic Spirit. Below are links to these stories:

The Seattle Times Local News, September 3, 2008, "All hands on deck to help Norwegian vessel ready for fair centennial."

Ballard News Tribune, December 9, 2008,
"Nordic Spirit Will Sail Again."

Luci Baker Johnson


Jason Herrington said...

Thanks for writing about our project, Luci! Your support makes projects like this possible. If you or any of your readers would like more information or would like to get involved with the Nordic Spirit or the Nordic Heritage Museum, please contact me at jasonh@nordicmuseum.org.

Jason Herrington
Nordic Heritage Museum

Jørn said...

I have asked some of my contacts in Norway if they know where this boat came from. It seems to be an "åttring" of the most recent traditional type, which places it in the latter half of the 19th century. It is a rare and fine vessel that deserves to be restored!

Jørn Olav Løset, Norway

John said...

I sailed on this boat in 1976, in Annapoliss Md. when she had a square sail with Volvo Penta on it. We would wear viking helmets and sheepskin vests and go around the harbor. One day we went into the Severn, and hoisted the sail. Scary!