Friday, June 10, 2016

Kon-Tiki Museum conjures adventure in Oslo

Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1947 to Polynesia (wikipedia)
OSLO, NORWAY Usually when people say “They don’t like museums,” what they really mean is that they don’t like certain “types” of museums. For example, there are five exhibitions that immediately come to mind that have universal appeal to even the most hardened “museum cynic.”

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland is a showcase of both the summer and winter games over the last century. The Museum of Transportation in York, England features trains, trolleys, buses and any other means of mobility from the U.K.’s historic past. In Stockholm, the Wasa Museum is a three-story virtually complete Swedish warship dating to 1626 that was salvaged from the bottom of the harbor in the 1960s. And then there are the outdoor ruins of Pompeii, once a thriving port city near Naples that was smothered by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Model of the Kon-Tiki from above  (wikipedia)

Oslo, Norway is home to another such venue which is guaranteed to become a topic of dinner conversation following a tour. The Kon-Tiki Museum captures the imagination of everyone who visits, especially appealing to the “little boy” spirit of adventure that lives within the soul almost every male on the planet.

Here in a single setting, visitors discover the story of Norwegian explorer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl who set out to learn more about the wanderlust spirit of primitive man’s search for new worlds. Guests can also experience the original vessels used during Heyerdahl’s amazing expeditions including the Kon-Tiki, Ra, Tigris, Easter Island, Fatu-Hiva, Tucume and Galapagos. There is a cave tour as well, plus an underwater exhibit and a life-size model of a whale shark.
What makes the Kon-Tiki Museum so appealing is that it’s the kind of place you know a little bit about from magazine articles or television programs but not much more. Then, when you see it up-close-and-personal, it becomes and eye-brow raising source of discovery and suddenly, what was supposed to be a fifteen minute break in the itinerary turns into a two or three hour love affair filled with curiosity and wonder.
Ra II was a reed boat the Heyerdahl team used to cross the Atlantic in 1970  (wikipedia)
Heyerdahl’s first expedition began on April 28, 1947 on a balsa raft called Kon-Tiki. Along with five other crew members, Heyerdahl began his quest from Callao, Peru sailing across the Pacific Ocean to the Polynesian Islands with the purpose of proving it was possible for people in pre-Columbian times to have settled Polynesia from South America.
Side view of Ra II which Heyerdahl used to sail from Morocco to Barbados  (wikipedia)
In literal terms, the “pre-Columbian era” represents to the times preceding the first voyages of Columbus in 1492.
Heyerdahl used only materials and technologies available to the people of the time in which they lived, attempting to prove that there were no technical reasons that would prevent them from a successful voyage. Though the 1947 expedition did sail with some modern equipment, Heyedahl’s argument was that the technologies they possessed had nothing to do with the physical proof that a primitive raft could successfully complete the journey.
Sailing their vessel built from balsa logs and other native materials recorded in illustrations by Spanish conquistadors, the sextet of adventurers were at sea for 101 days covering 4,300 miles before crashing on a reef in the Tuamotu Islands.
The indigenous craft was built from nine balsa tree trunks lashed together with hemp roping. Cross-pieces of balsa logs added support and pine splash boards covered the bow. The main-mast was built from mangrove wood to form an A-frame while behind the main-mast was a bamboo cabin that was 14-feet long and 8-feet wide. The steering oar was also made of mangrove with the rudder blade built out of fir.
Adventurer Thor Heyerdahl  (wikipedia)
Initial supplies consisted of 275 gallons of drinking water stored in 56 water cans. For food, the team relied on flying fish, dolphin fish, yellow fin tuna, bonito and shark which were plentiful to catch during the voyage. Other provisions included 200 coconuts, sweet potatoes, bottle gourd and an assortment of fruit.
Some 23-years later, in May of 1970, Heyerdahl challenged the Atlantic Ocean by sailing from Morocco on a course for Barbados in a reed boat called Ra II. A year earlier, the Norwegian explorer had attempted the same experiment but was forced abandon the project, falling short by only a week.
The Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo is home to all of Heyerdahl's expeditions  (wikipedia)
The 1970 expedition with its eight man crew was at sea for 57 days for a distance of 3,270 nautical miles. Using wall paintings of papyrus vessels from Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and Central and South America, Heyerdahl had the added vision of demonstrating that people from differing cultures and religions could work together to accomplish a common goal.

The Kon-Tiki Museum is a showcase of wonder, awe and adventure. But don’t bother to visit if you “don’t like museums.”