- Photographer: Melker Dahlstrand
- Photographer: Melker Dahlstrand
- Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman
The Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum is a unique building designed for a unique subject. The central hall serves as a large display case. To preserve the ship, its temperature and humidity are carefully regulated. The building is well integrated with the site and meshes well with the piers, boats and museum ships in the harbour outside, which also belong to the museum. The Vasa Museum is visited by over a million people each year.
The warship Vasa was salvaged in 1961 from the waters between Södermalm and Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. To protect the ship, a makeshift building of corrugated metal was erected at Södra Djurgården, the location to which it had been towed. For 27 years, the Vasa slept there on a gently rocking pontoon.
A prize-winning entry
In 1981, an architectural competition for a permanent home for the ship was announced. In the end, a Swedish firm, Månsson Dahlbäck Arkitektkontor won the competition and received the commission. The foundation stone of the building was laid in November 1987, and on June 15, 1990 the Vasa’s new home was inaugurated by King Carl XVI Gustav. That same year, the building received Sweden’s highest architecture award, the Kasper Salin Prize.
The permanent museum building
The ship is visible from almost every point in the museum, and from six levels. The longest distance to the ship is from the entrance (25 metres); the shortest is from the starboard side. The Ship Hall is 34 metres in height. This provides space for the standing rigging. Stylized masts and yards are displayed on the roof of the museum. The building’s highest mast rises to the same height as the Vasa's mainmast would have had, 52.5 metres from the keel.
In addition to the striking copper roof, the building's exterior is clad in glulam panels painted in natural colours: blue, tar black, red ochre,yellow ochre, and dark green. The colours on the exterior of the building are repeated in its interior, painted on wooden panels and directly on the concrete. Large sections of the walls and the entire roof are made of raw concrete.
The warship Vasa
One can scarcely talk about the Vasa Museum without mentioning the brief and ignominious history of the warship Vasa. The Vasa was built at Stockholm's shipyard under the guidance of the experienced Dutch naval architect Henrik Hybertsson. She was to be one of the most greatest warships of her time, and her two gun decks were fitted with 64 cannons.
On the day of the Vasa’s maiden voyage – Sunday, August 10, 1628 – spectators gathered on the city's beaches to watch her set sail. King Gustav II Adolf had also invited foreign ambassadors to the launch, eager to impress them with his new ship. The maiden voyage began near the area now known as Slussen. The sails were hoisted and the salute was shot, but only a couple minutes later, the Vasa began to list. She straightened up, but soon began to list again. Water gushed in through the gun ports and the pride of Sweden sank to the bottom of the bay. Between 30 and 50 members of the 150-man crew are believed to have drowned.
The most recent renovation
In 2013, the museum received a new entrance better suited to receiving its vast numbers of visitors. At the same time, a new space for the museum shop was created and parts of the museum hall were renovated to improve the visitors’ experience of the ship. The extension also entailed the establishment of a new space for temporary exhibitions, and the entire renovation was designed in collaboration with the original architects. The Vasa Museum is managed by the National Property Board Sweden.
Place on map
115 21 Stockholm
- Construction year: 1988
- Architect: Marianne Dahlbäck and Göran Månsson