6 reasons your kids will love the new Vikings exhibit at Carnegie Science Center

Above photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

Walk into the new Vikings: Warriors of the North Sea exhibit at Carnegie Science Center and be mesmerized by the roiling sea projected behind a reconstructed Viking boat. The sailboat seems to be no match for the whitecap waves, but for the sailing skill of Vikings.

This in-depth look into Norse culture, art and traditions, running through Sept. 4, offers immersive activities, video and more than 140 artifacts. Visitors are likely to be surprised at some of the stereotypes that are blown away by archeological research. No Vikings, for example, wore helmets with horns.

“Vikings dominate pop culture today, but they are often misrepresented and misunderstood. We hope this exhibition shares the true nature of the Scandinavians we know as Vikings,” says Jason Brown, the Henry Buhl Jr. director of Carnegie Science Center. “What they created and accomplished entailed science, technology, engineering and math skills and yielded productive results. Vikings built sturdy, lightweight ships, navigated without compasses, crafted beautiful jewelry and are even credited with inventing combs.”

Here are six reasons your kids will get a kick out of Vikings: Warriors of the North Sea. We bet you’ll find even more.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

1. Heft a sword

Kids can feel the weight and balance of a replica Viking sword and imagine the strength it would take to use it in battle. Touch and feel a heavy chain mail hauberk worn for protection. Vikings were ordered by Norwegian law to maintain a sword or axe, a spear and a shield, so they would be prepared to immediately answer a call to fight. They were known as fierce warriors and their swords were handed down as valuable heirlooms. Individual swords were thought to have personalities and were given rather vicious names like Leg Bite and Blood Tongue.

2. Build a boat

Surrounded by the sea and fjords in lands that are filled with lakes and rivers, the Viking countries of Scandinavia relied heavily on boats to travel between villages and explore the greater world. The boats’ shallow keel allowed them to navigate close to shore. Kids can follow directions on a touch screen to build their own Viking ship. They’ll collect the necessary resources like 23 oak trees for the keel, planks and timbers; 50 pine trees for the mast, yard and oars; 3 tons of iron ore for rivets; and 600 horse tails for rope.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

3. Play with cosplay

Learning about the everyday life of Vikings includes the chance to dress up in their garb. Men wore tunics and trousers, while women wore shift dresses. Just like in today’s society, those with more riches and status dressed with fancy fabrics and bling. Skillfully crafted brooches, beads and pendants are on display.

4. Take a selfie with an AI Viking

Families can interact with an artificial intelligence Viking and get a group shot that will be emailed after your visit.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

5. Play a war strategy game

Hnefatafl literally translates from Old Norse to “fist table,” but it’s better known as the King’s Table. The game was a big hit for Viking gamers and predates chess as a popular game of strategy. In the game, one player protects the king while the other tries to capture him. At the Science Center exhibit, Hnefatafl is an electronic board game set into a bench for easy play.

6. Browse the XPLOR Store

Pick up a souvenir or two at the XPLOR Store, where you can find the Viking influence at play. Clever, punny magnets proclaim, “It takes a Viking to raze a village” and “Let the Norse be with you.” Younger kids may like the Viking Adventure Activity Book that’s filled with sticker fun. The dragon pens are also pretty cool. And the wooden Viking boat kits will challenge those with nimble fingers.

Timed tickets for Vikings: Warriors of the Sea are $16 for kids, $18 for seniors and $20 for adults, separate from Carnegie Science Center general admission. Advance reservations are encouraged.