On my list of things to do in Sweden I list visiting the Vasa Museum. This is because it is one of the coolest museums I have been to. It takes a turn from your normal museum scene (pictures/painting/art on display, or multiple exhibits spanning years of history). The Vasa Museum has chosen its focus, that focus being the 17th century ship the Vasa.
The Vasa was a war ship that could hold 64 cannons and 300 soldiers. The ship was ordered to be built by king Gustav II Adolf, who was very concerned with status symbols. The Vasa took almost two years to build by head engineer Henrik Hybertsson.
The Vasa then sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage, after only sailing 1300 meters. Not surprising as the engineers knew it could not sail because of instability. However if the ship were to be built today it is likely the captain would be held responsible for the accident as Söfring Hansson should have sailed with the cannon doors shut to protect against an already unstable boat from sinking. 30 men, women and children died aboard the Vasa, and 15 sets of remains were found upon the ships surfacing. At the museum there is a section called “Face to Face” where you can learn about these people aboard the great war ship.
The ship spent three centuries under water before the Swedish marine technician Anders Franzén found it and began a campaign to retrieve the ship from its watery grave. Once surfaced in 1961 took almost 30 years to prepare and restore the ship and build the museum that the Vasa is standing in today. All new wood & restorations are done in untreated wood, so that a clear difference is seen between new wood and the 400 year old shipwreck wood.
I have never been to such a singularly focused museum. The ship is impressive enough in and of itself that the history behind it and extra details presented makes the museum a must visit in Stockholm city. Extra points if you sing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme for your entire visit.