Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian explorer and ethnographer who decided to test his theory that ancient peoples could have made long sea voyages by making the journeys himself in primitive craft. He built the Kon-Tiki from balsa wood and bamboo, inspired partly by old drawings of Inca rafts, and sailed it successfully across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia in 1947.
Heyerdahl and his crew covered 7,964 nautical kilometres in 101 days, proving that the seemingly disparate cultures of these ancient civilisations could have been connected. The book of his adventures became a best-seller and has been translated into seventy languages, while the documentary film received an Academy Award in 1951.
This fascinating and informative film is shown every day at the museum, where the Oscar statuette is also proudly on display. The Kon-Tiki itself takes the lion’s share of the limelight, accompanied by film footage and photographs from the expedition. Heyerdahl founded the museum as a way of chronicling his pioneering exploits and inspiring future generations of scientists and adventurers.
The museum also records many of his other achievements, including leading the first archaeological expedition to Easter Island. See a recreation of an Easter Island cave dwelling and admire some of the statues he brought back from this remote location. The reed boat Ra II, in which Heyerdahl and his crew crossed the Atlantic from Morocco to Central America in 1970, is another highlight of the display.
The Kon-Tiki Museum is located on the Bygdøy Peninsula and is on a convenient bus route from the city centre. During the summer months a ferry leaves from the City Hall pier. There is pay parking nearby. The museum is open every day apart from major public holidays and there is a small entrance fee. A thorough tour of the museum will take at least an hour.