We invite and encourage everyone to attend the upcoming Norwegian Lady Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, March 23, at 1pm. The ceremony takes place at the Norwegian Lady statue, at 25th Street on the Virginia Beach boardwalk and is free to attend. Supported by the Norwegian Lady Plaza Foundation, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Virginia Beach Fire Department, the Sons of Norway 3-522, the Norwegian NATO & Military Service Members, and Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum. We are proud to host a coffee social in the museum following the ceremony, also free and open to the public.
Since the spring of 1891, the Norwegian Lady has been a part of the Virginia Beach story. The beautiful statue that currently stands at 25th Street on the boardwalk has called to mariners since her dedication on September 22, 1962 with her wish “I am the Norwegian Lady. I stand here, as my sister before me, to wish all men of the sea safe return home.”
This gorgeous bronze, cast in the ancient lost wax tradition, is the work of renowned Norwegian sculptor Ornulf Bast. The original statue was not a statue at all, but the hand carved wooden figurehead of the Norwegian freighter Dictator. A tourist attraction for sixty-two years, the figurehead washed ashore when the ill-fated freighter met her demise along the coastal sandbars of Virginia’s shoreline. The 1200 ton vessel ran aground in the area that is now 40th Street.
Norwegian Lady Dedication, September 1962
The shipwreck is well a documented tragedy, with life-savers from the original Life-Saving Station that stood on our property saving 10 of 17 souls aboard. The Norwegian Lady and the Wreck of the Dictator, by William Foss, remains one of the best books and central source material for the tragedy. The book is available in the museum’s gift shop.
The original figurehead, damaged in the famous Hurricane Barbara in 1953, was to be replaced by a new statue, created through a wonderful partnership of “Sister Cities”, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Moss, Norway. The Norwegian Lady has memorialized the shipwreck, and also celebrates our long maritime heritage. Our statue has graced the boardwalk for 57 years. Her history is finally catching up to the original figurehead that stood on our shores for 62 years. Her “sister”, a second Norwegian Lady, looks across the sea from her place in Moss, Norway.
Postcard, original Figurehead, in front of the Princess Anne Hotel, Circa 1900.
The museum is proud and honored to have the only remaining piece of the figurehead in its collection. We’ll have this rare artifact on display and available for your “white glove” experience as part of Saturday’s reception. You’ll also see several other artifacts from the Dictator shipwreck.
The Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum is excited to now be creating a new exhibit sharing the fascinating history of the current statue’s creation. We’ll share behind the scenes shot’s of creating the statue, as well as the fun history of the artist’s model. We’ll have this on display for the coming summer season.
So please join us on, Saturday, March 23rd for what will be a very special afternoon. An afternoon well spent with the grand dame herself, The Norwegian Lady.
Norwegian Lady Statue, Virginia Beach, 1992