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Explore the World of Vikings at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Posted By Salt Lake County ZAP
July 21, 2017

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Planning an adventure to the Natural History Museum of Utah this summer? Get ready for a surprising and fascinating adventure!

Now through January 1, 2018, unravel fact from fiction at our newest special exhibition, Vikings: Beyond the Legend. 

Travel back in time to 750 – 1100 CE to investigate what scientists have uncovered about the Norse culture and the period now known as the Viking age. Discover the true meaning of the term “Viking.” Gather your own archaeological team to help you digitally excavate a traditional Norse ship. Hear stories about life as a Viking trader from Thorgrim the Dane, or master the secrets of rune reading from Volva Rundis Elidottir. Examine rare artifacts never before seen outside of Scandinavia. 

nhmu resident vikings

NHMU's resident Vikings

Challenging Stereotypes

Would it surprise you to know that some of the most popular Viking characterizations are little more than myth? Legends and some historical accounts depict these early Norsemen as blood-thirsty raiders, but modern archaeological evidence has begun to challenge many of these long-held beliefs.

Norse men and women, living in what is now Norway, Sweden and Denmark, were highly skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen. They transformed many raw materials such as wood, bone, leather, stone, iron, steel and precious metals, into the tools and treasures of everyday.

Young archaeologists excavating a Viking Age boat

Young archaeologists excavating a Viking Age boat 


Vikings in Utah


Today, about 14.9% of Utah’s 3,000,000 residents are of Scandinavian descent. Many continue to celebrate and honor their ancestral connections by carrying on the skills and cultural traditions of the ancient Norse crafts. 


Aaron Richardson is one Utah artisan who creates, teaches and demonstrates the art of blacksmithing, using Viking-age methods, from his shop in Eden, Utah. Richardson is a historic interpreter, who draws inspiration for his creations from traditional Norse objects found during archaeological excavations. His story, and examples of his work are currently on display outside the third-floor elevators of the museum.

display about common Viking funeral practices

Display about common Viking funeral practices


More Viking Activities and Events


All summer long, and into the Fall, the museum is celebrating all things Viking, with special opportunities and events to discover more about ancient Norse culture and its people. 

  • Don’t miss Explore Your Viking Roots - Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 4pm to 8pm. Nordic research specialists will be on hand to help visitors explore their own family history. At 5:30pm, Geoff Morris, Nordic Specialist for FamilySearch, will share details from his research into Scandinavian history and genealogical records as well as provide insights into some of the rare objects on display in the Vikings exhibit. Find out more at:
  • For a full day of Viking adventure, mark your calendar to attend Norse Fest, Saturday, September 23, 2017 – 10am to 5pm. Experience a variety of Norse arts, with performances and demonstrations by dancers, blacksmiths and weavers. Research your Viking roots, hear from Norse experts and historians, even sample Norse foods. Learn more at:

sky gallery visitors enjoying the views

Sky Gallery visitors enjoying the views




About the Natural History Museum of Utah

The Natural History Museum of Utah is a premier scientific research and cultural institution. It opened to the public in 1969 and moved into a spectacular, award winning new home in 2011. The Museum’s 30 scientists oversee active field research programs throughout Utah, and elsewhere, and help care for natural history collections of more 1.6 million objects. NHMU offers innovative exhibitions and educational programs to thousands of residents and visitors each year, including timely and interactive temporary and permanent exhibits, numerous special events and other programs. The Museum reaches 450,000 people annually, at the Rio Tinto Center and in communities and classrooms statewide. 

-Kris Chapman

Kris Chapman, Public Relations Assistant at the Natural History Museum of Utah, has been writing and highlighting exciting museum happenings for just over two years. With a bachelor’s in communications, she has also worked as a photo assistant, a textbook editor and a freelance writer for magazines and corporate blogs. With a passion for all things creative, she dreams of one day writing from a tropical island, where her toes are free to wiggle in the sand.