I like to bring my guests to the Norsk Folkemuseum, Norway’s largest museum of cultural history, because it’s one of the most interesting museums in Oslo, whatever your age. Last time I went there was in July 2008 so the temporary exhibition about “1814 – A Norwegian Drama” (read my post about the 17th of May for more information) was a good excuse to go back.
The open-air museum
The open-air museum is a collection of unique buildings of historic value from most geographic and cultural areas of Norway. Indeed, 155 traditional houses have been relocated from towns and rural districts to represent different regions, different time periods and different social classes. In other words, the museum shows how people lived in Norway from 1500 to the present.
The open-air museum can be divided in two part: the rural district, which displays authentic buildings and artifacts featuring traditional life in Norwegian valleys and fjords, and the Old Town featuring traditional life in Norwegian towns from the 17th century until now.
The main attraction and one of the most photographed buildings in Norway is the Gol Stave Church from around 1200, which is a medieval architectural masterpiece.
The dark colour of the wood but also its characteristic smell are the result of tar used for its preservation.
During the summer season (from May 15th to September 14th), the museum comes alive with many activities. Hosts dressed in traditional Norwegian clothing work at farmsteads, out in the fields as well as inside historical buildings. You can for example watch the traditional way of baking “lefse” and then taste it (kind of soft and sweet bread generally served with butter and cinnamon). Folk music and folk dance are performed daily. Guided tours twice a day give opportunities to learn more about the museum and about Norwegian culture and history. And much more…
During the winter season (from September 15th to May 14th), even if the open-air museum is open, most of the historical houses are closed. Visitors can still wander among the peaceful buildings but also spend more time in the indoor exhibitions.
The first two weekends of December is held the annual Christmas Fair.
The open-air museum is then decorated according to earlier traditions to show how the Christmas Holiday was celebrated in the past. A Christmas marked, choral concerts, folk dance and activities for the children will plunge you in the Christmas atmosphere.
The indoor exhibitions
Most of the visitors only come to the Norsk Folkemuseum for the open-air museum. I completely understand it but they miss an important part of the museum, which is as interesting and instructive. Indeed, the indoor exhibitions are very well organised and far from boring. So try to keep some time to take a look at the exhibition hall located near the main entrance/exit, which includes exhaustive displays on the Norwegian folk art, historic toys, national costumes (including traditional clothing used for weddings, christenings and burials), the Norwegian knitting history, domestic and farming tools and appliances, weapons, and the Sami life and culture.
Temporary exhibitions are also often hosted. If you plan a visit before the 31st of July 2014, you’ll have the opportunity to see “1814 – A Norwegian drama” about the consequences for Norway of the changes in European’s alliances inferred by the Napoleonic wars. It was the purpose of my visit and I must say that I now better understand the context of this important turning point for Norway.
Summer season: 10:00 – 18:00
Winter season: Monday-Friday: 11:00 – 15:00 / Saturday-Sunday: 11:00– 16:00
The museum is closed on January 1, May 17, December 24, 25, 31.
Adults: NOK 110
Children (above 6): NOK 30
Reduced: NOK 85
Families: NOK 225
Oslo Pass: Free
-Transportation: by bus or ferry
Bus N°30, it will stop you in front of the museum entrance.
Ferry N°91 (from April to October), go down at the first stop. From there, there is a 5 min pleasant walk in one of the Oslo’s most posh area.
-There is a nice souvenir shops to make original gifts.
-There are several cafés to take a break.