Let me tell you a story. It all began in Oslo Sentralstasjon on a snowy February morning. I took the bus to Bygdøy, a peninsula in Oslo that houses the most popular museums in the city, and I began to cram in as much Norweigan history as I could in one day…
I ran from museum to museum as quick as my boots could carry me on the icy snow. The Kon-Tiki Museum and the story of Thor Heyerdahl was the pick of the bunch…
Beginning. Middle. On and on.
Thor Heyerdahl was a man with no nautical experience who decided to build a raft and sail across the Pacific Ocean just to prove a theory. Sounds bonkers, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true, and I’ve seen the raft. It’s the first thing you see as you walk into the Kon-Tiki Museum.
As I wandered around the raft in awe I made my way to the start of the story. Laid out on white plaques backed by ocean waves the narration began. Thor Heyerdahl a Norwegian adventurer, had noticed a similarity in the ancient stone carvings in Peru, and the ancient stone carvings in Polonysia some 4,000 miles away across the Pacific Ocean. How did the pre-Columbian people travel all that way with primitive technology? Heyerdahl set out to find out.
The cartoon crab running along the lower part of the wall told us that Heyerdahl began recruiting a crew that built the Kon-Tiki raft out of native Peruvian materials. The cartoon crab was providing the same storyline, but for a younger audience, ensuring that all ages could follow the adventure.
A raft, not even a boat, made out of balsa wood could carry 6 adventurers? How could that be possible? How did they all fit? Well, I just needed to turn around and I could peer into the living quarters (a wooden hut) of the raft.
Sometimes one simple paragraph is all that’s needed to set the scene. One simple paragraph allowed me to understand the level of inexperience the crew had for this voyage: the crew were not sure how the raft would hold up as it was bound together with rope, but it soon became apparent that balsa wood plus rope is actually rather effective, as the rope grinds a groove into the balsa wood, holding it in place. And over my shoulder was a corner of the raft, logs held together with rope, but not budging an itch as it had burrowed itself into a groove in the log. Who knew?
Next up I got to meet the crew. Six lifesize images of the crew members marked the halfway point of the story. Big lads they were. As the story got more detailed the artefacts became more real. Excerpts of Heyerdahl’s diary, the crew guitar, the military grade sun cream, the shark repellent all told of the extremes these explorers went to whilst at sea.
The images became more vibrant as the explorers made their way to shore. They’d made it. With only a few scrapes along the way, they’d proved that it was possible that the pre-Columbian people could have travelled from Peru to Polynesia.
We could see that they had been treated like royalty upon their arrival, the images on the walls told us, and the Oscar in the cabinet proved that the red carpet was waiting for them upon their return.
Heyerdahl along with filmmaker Olle Nordemar won an Academy Award for their documentary of the Kon-Tiki exhibition.
A few yards to the right of the Oscar was the entrance to a cave, inviting me in to discover Heyerdahl’s next adventure…
A great story is conventionally told through film or literature, but when told through experience the narrative is heightened beyond the page or screen. If your guest can see, smell, touch the story they feel as though they are part of the story.
The Kon-Tiki Museum did this superbly. If you need to bring your story to life, we have a raft of talent at our disposal to help you get there.
You can watch the award-winning Kon-Tiki Expedition documentary on YouTube, if you’re quick you can watch the 2012 film adaptation on the BBC iPlayer, but to truly get the Kon-Tiki experience (without building your own balsa wood raft) visit Bygdøy.
About the Author: Alistair is a Marketing Executive at Katapult – A Creative England, Top 50 Company that creates physical and digital guest experiences that amaze and engage your visitors.