It is budget proposal times for the Norwegian Parliament and in connection with this the University of Oslo sent out a dire press release: The Viking Ships are hurting. No extra priority money in the budget can lead to the destruction of the ship. Are we risking a piece of the world heritage, these old Viking ships, dying on us?
The three Viking ships on display in the Viking Ship Museum on the island of Bygdøy outside of Oslo, Norway, is reported decaying. One of them, the Gokstad ship, had to get emergency support and attention during the 2018 summer to not fall apart.
This is not the first time the ships have had the need for extra care, back in 2014 there was found critical damages that needed attention. As the most visited museum in Norway, with an estimated 500 000 visitors yearly, and with the ships having status as a national treasure in Norway, it would be a cultural catastrophe if they would become damaged to the point of destruction.
“The Politicians does not seem to have grasped how dramatic the situation is.” – Svein Stølen, Headmaster of the University of Oslo
It is noteworthy that the whole situation seems to have a severe case of the “tragedy of the commons” written all over it. As always is in these cases the blame needs to be nailed on someone, a faceless entity that needs to take responsibility where there is no one to be found, to quote the museum director Håkon Glørstad from the press release:
“It is sensational that the Government choose to disregard the reports that the ships are in danger of being destroyed and are not taking responsibility to secure the iconic heritage for the future”
Would you trust 1200-year-old ships with someone like this? A museum with multiple revenue streams (tickets, tax funding, gift shop and so on) that is not allowed the basic function of a business: A savings account. If they would have one they would get budget cuts from, presumably, the largest source of income: The taxpayer money.
This makes the museum reliant on the state and we end up with a situation like this with no incentive to have a reasonable economic sense. I am sure the Viking ships will be saved, but the monetary structure will stay as shaky as it currently is with no rainy-days account and no punishment for economic irresponsibility.
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