Horsens Museum 
Rekonstruktion af Vitus Bering, Horsens Museum
The recreated bust of Vitus Bering, Horsens Museum

Vitus Bering

Vitus Bering was one of the world´s famous explorers. In 1728, Bering discovered that Asia and America are two separate continents, and in 1741 he was the first to map the west coast of Alaska. As Columbus tied together the world to the west, Bering tied it together to the east.

In the beginning
Vitus Jonassen Bering was born in Horsens in 1681. He went to sea as a young man and began a long career as a seaman. In 1703, Bering enlisted in the Russian navy. He moved to Russia, where he got married and had children. Apart from a single visit to Copenhagen in 1715, Bering never saw Denmark again.

The first Kamchatka Expedition
(1725 - 1730)
In the early 18th century it was unknown whether America was connected with Asia. Therefore the Russian Zar, Peter the Great (1672 - 1725), sent out an expedition lead by Vitus Bering to solve the problem. The expedition traveled through Siberia and reached Kamchatka, where a camp was set up and ships were built.

On the 13th of August 1728, Bering sailed round the north-east corner of Asia, thus proving that there was water between Asia and America. The American coast was hidden in fog, though.
Bering returned to St. Petersburg with the news but was criticised for not having actually seen the American coast.

The second Kamchatka Expedition
(1733 - 1743)
The second Kamchatka Expedition, the so-called Great Nordic Expedition, was the largest expedition the world ever saw. It included 10.000 men all in all. Vitus Bering was the leader and besides the overall organizer- in addition, it was his task to find and map the west coast of America.
He reached America on the 15th of July 1741.
On the way home his ship wrecked on a small bare island. Bering and his crew had to spend the winter on the island, living in driftwood huts that were dug into the sand. Many of the men died that winter, including Vitus Bering who was buried on the island among his men.
The island was later given the name Bering Island.

Bering is found
Although world famous, the exact look of Vitus Bering is unknown. A few portraits exist, but there are doubts about their authenticity.
This was the primary reason for establishing a Soviet-Danish research team which was to find and excavate Bering´s grave and subsequently recreate his face from the cranium.
The research team consisted of Soviet archeologists and forensic physicians as well as archaeologists from Horsens Museum.

In August 1991, Bering´s grave and the graves of five other seamen were discovered. The remains were transported to Moscow where they were investigated by the forensic physicians who succeeded in recreating Bering´s appearance.
In 1992, Vitus Bering and the other seamen were buried again on the Bering Island.

The exhibition in Horsens Museum shows the exiting expedition in words and pictures and also exhibits the interesting results of forensic medicine in the form of a recrested bust of Vitus Bering, a cast of Bering´s cranium and a reconstruction of the grave.

For more information in English:

Kamchatka - Bering Island
The Ocean Expeditions