What happened then - 2020

The Foteviken Viking Museum is part of Fotevikens Kulturcenter (Foteviken Cultural Centre) in Höllviken in the middle of the Falsterbo peninsula. Höllvikens Bygdegård (community centre), a restaurant, a mobile home quick stop and a scenic vantage point of Höllviken -- The Point, are also part of Fotevikens Kulturcenter (www.kulturcenter.se)

In the beginning of 2020 we looked forward to a new exciting year with an even better season than we had in 2019. The big news of the year was the opening of Smokey Barbecue & Pickles, a Texas BBQ themes restaurant at the community centre we felt woult complement the site nicely.

Then the Covid-19 epidemic struck and over night all our bookings of guided tour groups and school visitors were cancelled. The bookings and activities at the community centre completely vanished. We started the season with several millions in the red. We had to move the seasonal opening of the museum from Walpurgis Night (April 30) to the Swedish national day (June 6).

Our great annual Viking Market, traditionally held at the end of June would not be held due to the restrictions in place, and we could not market our events with so few visitors. Everything seemed black as night.

Fortunately the Swedish government reacted to the situation and we received some aid with cultural subsidies and reduced staff costs -- a small light in the darkness.

Traditionally 90% of our museum visitors were non-Swedes. Following our work over the past few years with events like the Viking Week, Children's Week, the Family Week, the Harvest Festival these numbers have changed to just 75% non-Swedish visitors -- in other words we have managed to spark some interest in Vikings among Swedes as well.

As the summer passed we had few but interested Swedish visitors. No visitors from abroad, with mobile homes and such, could be seen. Suddenly it turned around -- the Swedes started having their vacation at home in Sweden. The museum received visitors, and the intention was for them to follow up the museum visit with dinner at Smokey BBQ. Once the weather gods smiled at us and the sun started shining Smokey BBQ became a success with its large spacious outdoor seating area. The local population came to visit, as did Scanians from further abroad -- enticed by the exciting smoked food.

Thus instead of 75% visitors from abroad we ended up with 75% visitors from Sweden. But nothing lasts forever. Once the Swedish summer vacation was over and things returned to normal with work and school we knew from experience that the number of Swedish visitors at the museum would drop to around 2%. The season was over and on the 1st of August our staff was placed on 60% furlough. They keep the museum running Thursday to Sunday until we close for the year, with a harvest festival as the finale in the first week of September. Until then the museum is a pure open air museum with only the occasional Viking actor seen in the town environment. As has been the case throughout summer we have not had any permanent craftsmen on site, only volunteers and summer working students. The visitors have accepted us as an open air museum with few active Vikings to be seen. I am happy about this, even though we have not just received 5 star reviews this season.

Now the season is over - we await new culture subsidies to keep us going and it looks like we will make it through the year without too major losses, even though we have had to struggle with a skeleton crew and postponed annual maintenance and development.

But we will not know until May 2021 if we manage to survive and can look forward to a new season to add another year to this 40 year ongoing tale that started with the discovery of 5 Viking ships in the Bay of Foteviken.