Are the kids big fans of Loki and Thor, but think they’re both a creation of American movies circa 2011? Do they attribute runes to the inhabitants of Middle Earth and not, you know: Earth, Earth? For that matter, do they — like many of us — think of horned helmets, big warships and scary guys when they hear the word “Viking”? The new exhibit at Discovery Times Square takes a deep dive on the lives and culture of these Scandinavian seafarers, covering the myths, the misconceptions and much more.

Photo courtesy of the Discovery Center.

photo: Discovery Times Square

A Kinder, Gentler Viking
The exhibit — which is recommended for kids ages six and up — focuses on aspects of Viking culture that are not as well-known and steers clear of the violence and fighting. In the entire two-story exhibit, only a handful of swords are displayed, with the spotlight shining instead on the rich mythology of Vikings as well as farm life, clothing and decorations. As such, this is an excellent exhibit to visit with children without having to worry about violent imagery — you won’t find any of that here. Instead, the exhibit showcases over 500 artifacts (most of which are authentic), colorful, striking images, and a wealth of information on the people of 8th – 11th century Scandinavia.

Vikings Exhibit Times Square Discovery Center

photo: Discovery Times Square

Set Sail and Touch a Sword
Thirteen interactive sections including six touch screens are installed throughout the exhibit, enabling visitors to build their own virtual Viking ship or excavate the remains of one, dress up a Viking in traditional clothing, and even play a traditional Viking board game. (Be advised that the touch screens are installed pretty high up, so smaller children may need some help reaching them.)

It’s not all digital: clothing replicas are available to touch (but, sadly, not wear!), as are real cow and sheep fur, which the Norse people used to keep warm; at a section dedicated to the Viking’s rune alphabet, visitors can write their name in runes on a magnet wall. And yes, there is a safely-secured replica of a Viking sword to grip for fun and ferocious photo-ops.


photo: Discovery Times Square

Don’t Myth This
Viking myths and icons obviously have some staying power, and a large section of the show is dedicated to the stories and characters of Norse mythology. In addition to learning more about these tales, visitors learn how our days of the week are named after Norse gods and how symbols of creatures and Norse gods morphed into Christianity’s symbols of fish, deer, crosses, etc.

There is only one-horned helmet in the entire exhibit – a regular Viking helmet, with a pair of horns pulled down in front of it. Push the horns up, and they show up on the helmet’s shadow. The entire family will walk out of the exhibit knowing a lot more about a misunderstood culture, and eager to learn more.

The Vikings Exhibition
Feb. 5-Sept. 5
$27.50/adults; $20/children 4-12
226 West 44th St.

Will your family be checking out The Vikings Exhibition at Discovery Times Square? Tell us in the comments below!

— Yuliya Geikhman