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Press Announcement
Remarks by:
First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton
NMNH Director, Robert Fri
Nordic Council of Ministers Chairman Bjorn Bjarnason
Pres. & CEO, Volvo Cars N. America
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Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga is made possible through the generous support of Smithsonian partners Nordic Council of Ministers and Volvo.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with the White House Council on the Millenium.

Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga

Press Announcement
National Museum of Natural History
April 8, 1999

The exhibition, "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga," will commemorate the 1000-year anniversary of the Viking arrival in North America and explore the historical impact of new archaeological finds that have redefined the world's knowledge of early North American and Scandinavian life.

"Vikings" will open April 29, 2000 and continue through August 13, 2000. Recognized as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, "Vikings" is a $3 million, 5500 sq. ft. exhibition comprised of more than 200 artifacts. These artifacts include Viking Age jewelry, wooden carvings, and grave goods dated from 800 to 1050 A.D.; medieval church carvings dated from 1050 to 1400 A.D., Romantic period (1800-1900's) paintings, and contemporary pop-culture items.

"This is the story of an extraordinary people who archeologists have now proven were on these shores nearly 500 years before Columbus. They didn't stay long, but the fact that they got here at all makes for a remarkable tale -- or in Nordic terms -- a "saga," said Robert Fri, Director, National Museum of Natural History. "This 1000-year anniversary, coinciding as it does with the new millennium, is a fitting means of celebrating the power of the human spirit and its triumphs over adversity."

The exhibition brings together for the first time artifacts not only from Viking Scandinavian homelands (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) but also artifacts from Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Canada and the United States -- representing all the countries that the Vikings visited during their westward expansion.

Since its inception, "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga" has enjoyed the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers, which represents the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. "By honoring the North Atlantic Saga of Vikings we not only pay tribute to Leifur Eiriksson, who discovered North America 1000 years ago, but also honor the pioneer spirit of all those who settled in America." said Bjorn Bjarnason, Chairman, Nordic Council of Ministers for Cultural Affairs.

The exhibition is made possible in part through the generous support of Volvo. "We are pleased to have the opportunity, in partnership with the Smithsonian, to bring the history, culture, and values of the Viking people to North American audiences. The heritage of the past inspires future generations. The legacy of Nordic culture, respect for the environment and the individual, achievement of goals, and a spirit of adventure, has shaped Volvo's culture, and holds important lessons for the new millennium," said Leif Johansson, President of AB Volvo and Chief Executive Officer of the Volvo Group.

The exhibition team, directed by Smithsonian curator Dr. William Fitzhugh, has the support of specialists from museums around the world, including the Statens Historiska Museum, Stokholm; the Danish Museum, Copenhagen; the Bergens Museum, Norway; the National Museum of Iceland; the Greenland National Museum and Archive; Parks Canada; the Canadian Museum of Civilization; and the Glasgow Art Museum, Scotland. Speaking on the significance of this exhibition Dr. Fitzhugh said, "The Viking's trek from their Scandinavian homelands to North America was a truly historic moment in history -- a time when two streams of humanity, one European and the other Asian/Native American, met for the first time on the northeastern shores of this continent."

After premiering at the Natural History Museum, the "Vikings" exhibition will embark on a 2-year tour of North America which will include New York,
Houston, Los Angeles, and Ottawa.

Venue Schedule

Washington, DC, April 29, 2000 - August 13, 2000
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution 

New York, October 20, 2000 - January 20, 2001
American Museum of Natural History

Site to be determined, March 2, 2001 - May 31, 2001

Houston, July 13, 2001 - October 11, 2001
Houston Museum of Natural History

Los Angeles, November 23, 2001 - March 16, 2002
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Ottawa, May 16, 2002 - October 14, 2002
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa/Hull


For more information on "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga" and related programming, please contact Kara Callaghan at or 202-357-4077.

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