Finally! I got to see the Vasa. The giant wooden ship was raised from the seafloor in the 1960s, where it had sunk almost immediately after its launch 333 years ago. It’s now housed in a dark cool museum, built to show the original height of the ship.
The historic setting is fascinating, as is the science behind the preservation. When the ship drowned, brackish waters kept it almost completely preserved. The conservationists impregnated the entire Vasa and many of its contents (leather shoes, wooden buckets, and more) with polyethylene glycol, a synthetic wax solution that replaced all the water in the wood.
The process of applying the preservative also spread iron throughout the wood. After decades of the PEG treatment, the redistributed iron ended up as nucleation points for chemical reactions that started eating away at the wood. It’s spawned a small analytical-chemical research industry, with projects on what was happening with the iron and how best to preserve wood for museums, among other subjects. Fascinating stuff.
This excursion was part of a visit from R&M, on their grand Nordic tour (biking in Finland, a trip to Tallin from Helsinki, a short stop in Stockholm…). The weather held out, thank goodness (rain started falling as soon as they left), which meant we got a lovely walk in the Djurgarden after several hours in the Vasa museum.
We stopped for fika at the Rosendals Trädgård, a lovely garden I stumbled into a weekend or two ago on my bike, in search of the prince’s bocce pits (haven’t found those yet). We had delicious cake and homemade tea, the garden’s own mix, and our guests bought us a lovely pepper plant and, for themselves, some tulip bulbs that look like they will be spectacular next spring.
I have no photos, but I do plan to go back again and again — to the Vasa, to the garden, to have fika… mmm. And if you, dear reader, come visit, I will gladly take you with me!