Sweden's Vasa sails into world's top museums list

Maddy Savage
Maddy Savage - [email protected]
Sweden's Vasa sails into world's top museums list
Sweden's Vasa ship. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Stockholm's iconic Vasa warship has scored ninth place in a list of the top museums on the planet, according to users of traveller review site Tripadvisor. It has also bagged the highest ranking for any museum without a focus on art.


Sweden's most popular tourist attraction draws in around a million visitors each year, but until now the Vasa Museum has failed to enter the top ten list of international museums selected by users of the world's largest travel site.
The museum houses the wreckage of the country's best known ship, which sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was salvaged in the 1960s. 
As most of its reviews on Tripadvisor demonstrate, even people who usually start snoozing at the words 'maritime' and 'history' tend to find the Vasa Museum a fascinating place where they are given the chance to step back in time as well as learn about some of the cutting edge techniques being used to preserve the vessel. 
“Like looking through a time machine. Stunning look into ship life and shipbuilding from a ship disaster 400 years ago,” reads one comment highlighted by the travel site in its rundown of the world's top museums.
"It's great news to be placed at number nine," the museum's director Magnus Olafsson told The Local.
"I remember last year we were placed at 13. Looking at the list, the eight museums before us are all art museums, so we are the best non-art museum in the world. That's wonderful," he added.
"It works for all kinds of people - children, older people, people interested in history and those who are not. They all find something in the museum. It [the Vasa] is breathtaking and it's a strong experience to see it".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York came top of the list, while Paris's Musée d'Orsay came second and was the highest placed museum in Europe.
Stockholm's Vasa Museum beat some of the continent's other most iconic attractions including the Acropolis Museum in Athens (placed 11th), the British Museum in London (12th) and the Accademia Gallery in Florence (14th).

The Vasa Museum came behind the Musee d'Orsay in Paris but ahead of many other European attractions. Photo: Remy de la Mauviniere/TT/AP
News of its new status came just a day after Sweden's government announced that it wanted to make state-owned museums free from 2016, as was the case the last time the Social Democrats were in power ten years ago.
But Olafsson told The Local he was not concerned that the initiative would draw visitors away from the Vasa museum, which is set to retain its entry fee of 130 kronor for adults (just under $16).
"We know from the last time that we will not lose any visitors. Actually, the number of visitors raised during that period, so I am not at all concerned."
However despite his optimism and the attraction's glowing reviews, as The Local reported earlier this year, there remains a hardcore group of tourists who cannot be converted to the concept of a museum about a sunken ship.
“Why design, build and invest a fortune in an old warship that was a failure?” mused one Tripdavisor reviewer, referring to the fact that it sank minutes into its maiden voyage.
"Didn’t go in, but it seemed like a lot of money to see a ship museum. I read a book about the ship in the gift shop. Didn’t see a need to wait in a long line to see the museum," posted another.

Tourists inside the Vasa Musem. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
Top 10 museums in the world as voted by Tripadvisor users

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, New York     

Recommended admission: adults – $25, seniors – $17, students – $12; guests under 12 get in free 


2. Musee d'Orsay – Paris, France

Admission: adults, seniors, students, children – $12 each 


3. Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois        

Admission: adults – $25, seniors and students – $19 each; guests under 14 get in free


4. Museo Nacional del Prado – Madrid, Spain   

Admission: adults, seniors, students – $16 each; guests under 18 get in free


5. Musee du Louvre – Paris, France         

Admission: adults, seniors, students – $17 each; guests under 18 get in free


6. State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace – St. Petersburg, Russia      

Admission: adults, seniors, students – $9 each; children get in free


7. National Gallery – London, England     

Admission: free


8. The Rijksmuseum (National Museum) – Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

Admission: adults, seniors, students – $20 each; guests under 18 get in free


9. Vasa Museum – Stockholm, Sweden          

Admission: adults and seniors – $15 each, students – $12; guests under 18 get in free   


10. National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) – Mexico City, Mexico     

Admission: adults and students – $4 each; seniors and children under 13 get in free


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