Nicholas R. Bell, senior vice president for curatorial affairs at Mystic Seaport Museum, joins us for a special presentation on two exhibitions opening at the museum this spring: The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden and Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga, both of which will be on view at Mystic Seaport from May 19, 2018 through September 30, 2018.

The Vikings Begin brings historic Viking-age artifacts dating back as early as the seventh century from the collections of the Gustavianum Museum of Uppsala University in Sweden, which are now the focus of a major research initiative on how Norse culture evolved. This exhibition is the first time that many of these artifacts — including helmets, shields, weapons, glass, and others — will have traveled from Sweden, and Nicholas R. Bell will discuss their history and significance in contemporary Scandinavian studies.



Science, Myth, and Mystery delves into the history of the notorious Vinland Map, which, when it was first unveiled by Yale University in 1965, created high levels of interest and controversy. Dated by Yale back to 1440, the map depicts at its far western edge Vinland (now known as Newfoundland), which was discovered by explorer Leif Ericsson in 1000 — suggesting that there was Norse knowledge of the New World long before Columbus sailed. The Map’s discovery ignited a firestorm of debate as scholars, historians, and scientists across the globe argued over its meaning and authenticity. Today most scholars concur the Map is a forgery, but Nicholas Bell will discuss why it continues to play a major role in our national conversation about who we are and where we come from.

Attendees to this event will receive a $3 discount coupon to the exhibitions at Mystic Seaport Museum through July 31, 2018.

About Nicholas R. Bell

Nicholas Bell is the senior vice president for curatorial affairs at Mystic Seaport Museum, where he is responsible for the care, management, strategic development, and exhibition of the Museum’s collections. Prior to joining Mystic Seaport, Bell was the Fleur and Charles Bresler curator-in-charge at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he led the Gallery’s relaunch following a major renovation.

Bell has published seven books in the last five years, including exhibition catalogues and one edited anthology. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, and earned his master’s from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware.



Viking Helmet, 7th century, Courtesy Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum; Nicholas R. Bell

TUE—May 8—7 PM, free