After the conference, Heather and I went to the Vasa Museum, which is pretty incredible.
The Vasa was an 17th-century warship that sank within minutes of setting sail off the waters of Stockholm. (The amazing thing is, everyone involved knew that the design had been screwed up, and nobody was willing to tell the king.)
In the 1950s, an explorer found it; for the next several years the Swedish Navy worked to salvage it, the scientists spent more years preserving and reconstructing it. Finally, they built a museum around it, rather than try to move it again.
The museum itself is quite amazing, and the Vasa is spectacular. Of course, had it been a successful warship it would have been worked to death; the fact that it sank immediately, and therefore is available to us today, is a great example of how surviving historical artifacts and documents can be the unusual and anomalous things, not the everyday and truly representative ones.
If you can’t tell from the pictures, the Vasa itself is huge, and the space around it is fantastic. Very worthwhile. As Heather notes, so much of what you can see in an interesting city is actually stuff you can see, with some variation, in many great cities– the Asian art museum here may be as good as the one in Paris or San Francisco, but they’re all Asian art museums– but this is one of a kind.
Lots more pictures here.