Jorvik Viking Centre has to be one of the most loved museums in Yorkshire. It has been enthralling children and their parents for years – I remember visiting myself as a child! The ride was novel, and made the museum far more exciting than just looking at exhibits behind glass screens.
Along with much of York, the museum was badly affected by the floods in December 2015, and the team have spent 15 months working hard to get Jorvik back to its former glory and reopen to the public. Luckily, all the Viking artefacts on site were removed as soon as water levels started to rise, so these were saved, as were the preserved Viking-age timbers and the ride mechanism.
Jorvik Viking Centre finally reopened last month and it has been greatly missed during the closure. I went along just before it opened its doors to the public, and was thrilled to see that, whilst greatly improved, it still retains the feel and look of the museum I have enjoyed visiting time and time again during my life.
The first part of the museum you enter is the reconstructed excavation. Under a solid glass floor, a replica of discovered timbers and artefacts are laid out to be explored. You can walk on the floor and really get up close to have a good look at the dig site. A major improvement to this area is through videos, images and voices as you walk around which explore the stories of those who were a part of the original 5-year excavation of Coppergate.
The ride around the recreated Viking York is still a highlight. It is now a longer experience, and the time capsule that you ride in has its own touch screen display which provides varying commentary in 14 different languages, making it more accessible to visitors from overseas. The screen also highlights key objects for visitors to look out for as they journey around the streets. There are new characters to see as well as some old favourites, and they are more animatronic, providing a more immersive atmosphere. The sounds and of course the smells are back – no visit to Jorvik would be complete without the smell!
Once the journey is over, you exit into a much more open plan gallery than before, displaying intriguing artefacts found in the Coppergate area. There are information panels as well as touch screen displays to make your visit more interactive.
Jorvik has been brought right into the 21st century as well as back to the Viking period! It is more accessible for wheelchair users and has hearing loops fitted as well. The first weekend of the reopening was sold out online weeks in advance, such was public excitement that Jorvik was back in action. It is well worth a visit to see all the hard work that has gone into making the museum just as enjoyable today as it was years ago!
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