Museums of the North Sea countries tell tales of Vikings, spice traders, comic strip artists, food groups (beer and chocolate are food groups, you should know that), painters and sculptors of unimaginable talent, royalty and romance, and the slings and arrows of centuries of political turmoil. How can museums like this ever be boring?
The Viking Ship Museum presents great Viking ship discoveries from all over Norway, including finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. The world's two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century. Small boats, sledges, carts with exceptional ornamentation, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils are all on display. The Kon-Tiki Museum houses a range of boats and artifacts from Thor Heyerdahl's expeditions. Here you can see the original Kon-Tiki raft with a 30 foot whale shark underneath, statues and a secret family cave from Easter Island, the papyrus boat Ra II, and an exciting collection of archaeological finds from Easter Island, East Polynesia, Galapagos and Peru.
There are 711 museums in Denmark. How are you going to pick one? The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is situated in a spacious, old park with a fine view across the sound of Sweden. It houses an exquisite collection of modern works by a stellar array of international artists. The Experimentarium is Denmark's Science Center, focusing on science and technology, environment and health and has a special Children's Pavilion for the 3-6 year-olds. Den Gamle By (The Old Town) is a living and breathing experience of what it was like to live and work in a Danish market town in the old days.
In Holland there’s always a museum nearby. The Hendrikje Museum of Bags and Purses displays the history of the western lady’s handbag from the late Middle Ages up to the present day. If you don’t already know the difference between an 18th century chatelaine bags and a 19th century reticules, you will after you explore this unusual museum. See lines and squares and color at The Hague Municipal Museum, home to the largest collection of paintings Piet Mondrian. The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) is much more than a museum. With more than 30 exhibitions per year in seven halls, the NAi presents an attractive overview of architecture, both at home and abroad. Don’t forget the iconic Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh collections!
Belgium has museums on topics ranging from Fencing (the sport, not your garden boundary) to Fine Arts, ensuring something to suit every taste. Highlights include the Flemish Masters at the Fine Arts Museum, Scientastic (a highly interactive science museum for kids right in the heart of town), the Royal Museum of Central Africa and the Museum of Natural Sciences. Visit the Musical Instruments Museum and the Magritte Museum on the Mont des Arts before you head down the hill to the stunning Art Nouveau building housing the Comic Strip Museum. See Tintin and his friends here or at the spectacular new museum dedicated to Hergé, his creator. The museum is built in the shape of an elongated prism that seems to float on the forest of ancient trees.
Germany abounds with museums so you just have to prioritize your list and be prepared to change your mind as you discover new exhibits along the way. Situated in the heart of the city, the famous Berlin Museum Island is one of the most important museum complexes in the world. The complex comprises five museums of international prominence, archaeological collections and 19th century art. This collection of museums was designated a site of UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. The famous Green Vault in Dresden – founded in around 1560 by Elector Augustus – is Europe's richest, most magnificent treasure chamber museum. Since it reopened in 2006, visitors to the Royal Palace can once again admire the collected treasures of the Electors and Kings of Saxony in an even more splendid setting.