The Vasa Museum is a maritime museum located on the island of Djurgården, Stockholm, Sweden. Displaying the only, virtually intact, 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628.
The Vasa was built for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden from 1626 to 1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing less than a nautical mile (2 km) into her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628. Vasa was top-heavy with insufficient ballast and despite an obvious lack of stability in port, she was allowed to set sail and foundered a few minutes later when she first encountered a wind stronger than a breeze. The impulsive move to set sail resulted from a combination of factors. King Gustavus Adolphus, who was abroad on the date of her maiden voyage, was impatient to see Vasa join the Baltic fleet in the Thirty Years' War. At the same time, the King's subordinates lacked the political courage to discuss the ship's structural problems frankly or to have the maiden voyage postponed. An inquiry was organized by the privy council to find someone responsible for the disaster, but no sentences were handed out.
During the 1961 recovery, thousands of artifacts and the remains of at least 15 people were found inside or near Vasa by marine archaeologists. Among the many items found were clothing, weapons, cannons, tools, coins, cutlery, food, drink and six of the ten sails. The artifacts and the ship itself have provided historians with invaluable insight into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques and everyday life in early 17th-century Sweden. When she was built, Vasa was intended to express the expansionist aspirations of Sweden and its king, Gustavus Adolphus, and no expense was spared in decorating and equipping her. She was one of the largest and most heavily armed warships of her time and was adorned with hundreds of sculptures, all of them painted in vivid colors.
The new museum, opened officially in 1990, is dominated by a large copper roof with stylized masts that represent the actual height of Vasa when she was fully rigged. Inside the museum the ship can be seen from six levels, from her keel to the very top of the stern castle. Vasa has been fitted with the lower sections of all three masts, a new bowsprit, winter rigging, and has had certain parts that were missing or heavily damaged replaced. The replacement parts have not been treated or painted and are therefore clearly visible against the original material that has been darkened after three centuries under water. Around the ship are numerous exhibits and models portraying the construction, location and recovery of the ship.