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Vikings Live from the British Museum

Vikings: life and legend

Event preview

AT 7pm on Thursday, April 24, 2014, the British Museum, supported by BP, will present Vikings Live from the British Museum to just under 400 cinemas across the UK.

Vikings Live will offer cinema audiences an exclusive live guided tour of the BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend, the British Museum’s first major exhibition on the Vikings in over 30 years.

Vikings Live will be introduced by the Museum’s Director, Neil MacGregor, and presented by the celebrated television historians, Michael Wood and Bettany Hughes.

Exhibition curator, Gareth Williams, and leading world experts will take cinema audiences through the exhibition, getting up close to objects and exploring the global contacts, ships and swords, burials and beliefs of the Viking Age as well as examining the Vikings’ enduring language and legacy.

The live broadcast will be followed by Viking Adventures from the British Museum, also supported by BP, a pre-recorded cinema event on June 5 for schools and families.

The exhibition and cinema broadcasts focus on the core period of the Viking Age, from the late 8th century to the early 11th century. The extraordinary Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. Warfare and warrior identity are at the centre of what it meant to be a Viking and contact with other lands was often violent.

Objects include recently excavated skeletons from a mass grave of executed Vikings in Dorset, armour and weapons. But there is also fine jewellery, sculpture and metalwork which was traded as well as raided across the globe.

At the centre of the exhibition and Vikings Live is Roskilde 6, the longest Viking ship ever found (pictured). See also our Vikings: life and legend Gallery.

Her Majesty Margrethe II of Denmark talks about the grandeur of these ships which bore her ancestors Harald Bluetooth and Svein Forkbeard, while Kristiane Straetkvern, conservator at the National Museum of Denmark, will talk about the exciting find, excavation and conservation of the ship timbers found in a Danish harbour.

Renowned yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston will re-live his transatlantic voyage testing Viking navigation. During the broadcast craftsmen from the National Maritime Museum will construct the prow of a great Viking ship to show what made these vessels so spectacular – built for speed, endurance and shaped for terrifying beauty.

A replica ship will be installed in front of the Museum and as the evening darkens, a Viking burial will start to take shape, culminating in an elaborate theatrical boat burial lit by flaming torches carried by Viking warriors.

The broadcast will also explore how through our languages, our poetry, our names and place names – even our DNA – we can see how many of us are connected across time to the Vikings. With practical demonstrations and stunning close-up photography of the Viking objects in the exhibition, the broadcast of Vikings Live will be a reminder of how the Vikings have shaped our modern lives.

Viking Adventures from the British Museum will be a lively and interactive film which has been designed for a schools and family audience. Schools will be able to visit their local cinemas on Thursday, June 5, 2014, and other dates on demand, and selected cinemas will show Viking Adventures as a family show throughout the summer.

Viking Adventures will be tailor-made for 7-11 year olds keen to discover more about life in the Viking Age. The show will support a broad range of national curriculum Key Stage 2 subjects, including history, geography, English, art and design, design technology and RE.

This cinema event will build on the success of last year’s Pompeii Live for schools and will be presented by CBBC presenter, Ed Petrie, who presented Pompeii Live for schools, and Sonali Shah who presented BBC’s Newsround for five years.

More2Screen has been appointed by the British Museum to distribute Vikings Live as Vikings from the British Museum and Viking Adventures from the British Museum to all international territories excluding the UK and Ireland. More2Screen distributed the British Museum’s first cinema broadcast last year, Pompeii from the British Museum which has so far been screened in over 1,000 cinemas worldwide.

The screenings of Vikings Live will bring the exhibition to a wider audience who are not able to see the exhibition in London and our partnership with More2Screen will extend our audience to the world.

Vikings: life and legend continues at the British Museum until June 22, 2014.