Review: Viking: Rediscover the Legend at the Yorkshire Museum

2017 is turning out to be York’s Year of the Viking, with the re-opening of the JORVIK Viking Centre and now the opening of Viking: Rediscover the Legend at the Yorkshire Museum. We loved our sneak peek of it at the launch event, but wanted to get the children’s seal of approval, so we took our own little Vikings along this weekend to see what they’d make of it. They absolutely loved it, and here are their highlights.

Experiencing a Viking camp through virtual reality

Enter the Viking camp area and don your virtual reality mask to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a Viking community through state-of-the-art technology. All three children loved how immersive this was and really believed there was a campfire, tent or Viking man just feet away from where they were standing. Even the youngest got involved with a bit of help to hold up the mask (they’re not light). They got so involved that it was hard to persuade them to put the masks down. They were also disappointed to hear that unfortunately the masks aren’t for sale in the gift shop.

Dressing up like Vikings

When we visited, the only problem with the exhibition’s dressing up corner was its popularity, which is no surprise because who wouldn’t want to dress like a Viking? All of the kids got into the spirit of it, donning helmets and wielding swords and shields (cue: mild parent panic). Some adults were even giving it a go, and why not? Our youngest (2) said this was her favourite bit because she liked wearing the necklaces.

Seeing real treasure

The exhibition has brought together two of the most significant collections of Viking age treasure in Britain, and although they don’t appreciate its rarity, the kids loved seeing it all. From hoards of coins to intricate jewellery, comb cases and the famous Coppergate Helmet, the Viking artefacts have to be seen to be believed. The information around the exhibits is clear and simple, so our seven year old was able to read and understand most of it.

Playing games and reading in the Viking camp area

We spent ages in the Viking camp area reading the children’s books on Vikings and attempting to play some of the Viking games (the rules are easy to follow unless you have a rogue toddler who likes to rearrange the pieces regularly). It’s a good place to relax and get into the Viking family spirit.

Getting hands-on

There are loads of interactive parts to the exhibition that kids can get involved in, from writing their name in runes to working out how Viking they are. Little tech fans will be pleased by the touch-screens, but the lo-fi Viking games are just as appealing.

Rowing across the seas

Our three land-lubbers really enjoyed getting on board the Viking longboat and sailing out to sea, complete with sound effects. In real life they may have thrown one another overboard fairly sharpish (there was a lot of arguing about who wasn’t pulling their weight), but thankfully this was an imaginary journey.

The Little Vikings Verdict

We knew this exhibition would be something special because of the amazing artefacts, but it was fantastic to discover that it’s also very child-friendly. It’s been cleverly designed to tell the story of the Vikings in an engaging and captivating way that’s as interesting for young visitors as it is for everyone else. All three of our little vikings have asked to go again, which says it all!

Top tips

  • Due to limited space, buggies can’t be taken into the exhibition area (you can leave them in the entrance), so bear this in mind if you have a napping baby.
  • Why not combine your visit with a picnic in the Museum Gardens, a trip to Explore York Library or a wander down to The Full Moo ice cream boat?
  • If you don’t already have a YMT Card, it’s worth considering getting one if you think you’ll visit The Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum and/or York Art Gallery more than a couple of times a year. We use ours a lot!

Yorkshire Museum, York Museum Gardens, York YO1 7FR –  normal admission charges apply (free for YMT Card holders; under 17s free) – Exhibition open daily, 19th May to 5th November 2017 – yorkshiremuseum.org.uk

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