Bygdøy Museums in Oslo: 4 Exhibitions in 1 day

Welcome to another post related to our recent trip to the Norwegian capital! Today I will be giving you a quick review and visit to these 4 fantastic museums that are all placed in the peninsula of Bygdøy. You can get there either by boat service or on the bus, takes about 10-20 minutes from Oslo’s city centre depending on the method of transport that you take and the time of the day. These are the museums Alex and I wanted to see, but there are some more, so you could certainly get 2 days worth of visits in this area if you really wanted – we simply did not have time for the Holocaust Centre or the Maritime Museum! Now, I appreciate that 4 museums in one day seems like a lot, but do not let this scare you away, they are all actually not very big museums at all. And if you are willing to stretch the area of Bygdøy to a 2 day affair, then you can spread them out even more.

Let me give you a breakdown of our schedule for that day: Viking Ship Museum dead on the opening hour at 10:00 am, we finished there around 11:30 am, and walked for a couple of minutes to the Norwegian Folk Museum. We were done there by after lunch, around 1:oo pm roughly. Then we headed for the waterfront and decided we had time to see the Fram Museum, where we spent a little bit more than an hour. Finally we landed next door to the Kon Tiki Museum right before 3, having an hour exactly until the museum closed – we did not miss anything terribly important, apart from the film showing of the Oscar-winning documentary, for which they have specific shows during the day. In any case, the visit were not overwhelming (this was Alex’s judgement, not mine! He is the saner one, you can trust him), and the ship thematic really worked well, highlighting the individual contexts and really bringing forward how important boats have been for the Norwegian nation throughout all of history, and for different purposes. Now I wont go mad, expect a few pictures, videos and text reviewing out experience. In any case, I hope you get if nothing else a glimpse of a very interesting cultural enterprise!

Viking Ship Museum

I could not be happier than seen the fascinating viking age ships that have made such a deep mark in historiography – I was there, and with the ones from Denmark, this is all something I can tick off the list of things to do in life. The museum itself is not very big, and it does not have loads of material in exhibition, or explanatory panels, but to be honest – if you’re here is because you want to see the ships, and they are totally work the visit. This will only be a teaser as I have plans for a combo update with the ships of Roskilde too, so here you go:

Oseberg burial ship, in all its glory.
Oseberg burial ship, in all its glory.

It was incredibly difficult to photograph the boats with my incredibly poor equipment – aka my phone – so I decided at some point that video was useful – my comments and difficult for words show how boggled I was at this. Vid. 1 – Gokstad. Vid.2 – new museum competition.

Thinking about the future! Conscious effort of preserving the past, which I prominently saw all across different museums in Oslo.
Thinking about the future! Conscious effort of preserving the past, which I prominently saw all across different museums in Oslo.
One of the carved head posts from the burials at Oseberg and Gokstad.
One of the carved head posts from the burials at Oseberg and Gokstad.
One of the burial wagons - simialr to those from the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen.
One of the burial wagons – similar to those from the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen.

All in all a fantastic place, but I would recommend now, knowing that they are planning on remodelling soon, that you wait and visit when that is sorted. Unless you are dying to go, in which case hurry up!

Norwegian Folk Museum

This was a very pleasant visit – very similar style and idea to the Open Air Museum in Copenhagen, but with more exhibitions. They have 2 buildings with small exhibits regarding local history about the Saami, the history of regional costume, and other items from Norway’s history from a domestic, rural and cultural point of view. This place has much more activity during the summer months – they have daily activities and different areas of the museum open. Some places were being improved or restored so I would suggest this may be better suited for warmer seasons. In any case, it was very quaint.

Displays from the Saami exhibition.
Displays from the Saami exhibition.

Buildings from the reconstructed Old Town.

Buildings from the reconstructed Old Town.

The Starve Church - my main reason for oming to this place. Absolutly glorious.
The Starve Church – my main reason for coming to this place. Absolutely glorious.

Fram Museum

Considered the best museum in Norway (period), this was not scheduled but as we had some time spare, we decided we should not go without seeing it. The museum is dedicated to the Norwegian expeditions to both poles, and I must say that, although it is really not my area of expertise, it was a great experience. I have taped most of our interaction in the museum, simply because it was fairly difficult due to the layout to take decent pictures. In addition, the museum is very modern in its approach to the story it tells so taping it allowed me to reflect this a bit better. I have to say, as a piece of contextualisation and suiting purpose to the materials displayed, is probably one of the best museums I have been in the last few years that achieves this greatly. The actual Fram ship is the centre piece o the exhibition – inside it there are displays from cabinets and objects within the boat, while the 3 levels created around the ship talk about the different expeditions. They even have an area dedicated for children to feel like a pole explorer. Overall, this museum gets a 5 star rating. And on a last comment, the museum shop is absolutely terrific, with some great books on the subject which are difficult to find elsewhere – so if you stop by, do consider taking some of those gems home with you.

The Fram.
The Fram.
Example of the varied displays from the museum, these metal sheets creating timelines and conecting pictures really bring forward the information while keeping some sort of modern nautical spirit.
Example of the varied displays from the museum, these metal sheets creating timelines and connecting pictures really bring forward the information while keeping some sort of modern nautical spirit.

The Kon-Tiki Museum

This is a museum that every humanist should visit – in my very modest opinion. This is the story of a man who did not give up his theory and vision despite the odds and the criticisms. This is the story of a man who even put his life at risk to proof a valid point regarding the interactions between the people in South America and the Pacific Islands, and beyond. Thor Heyerdahl, man and legend, and the work of a life time, all neatly displayed in this museum, with no ostentation, and no oversimplification of the matter, which is not easily achieved. The man who picked a raft boat and proved his peers wrong, or at least created reasonable doubt. If you can make it for the documentary showing, I am sure you would not regret it – unfortunately we could not make it, which I regret. But in any case the museum is worth a visit, they have the preserved balsas that Thor got made for his historical experiments, as well as some information regarding his involvement in the Easter Island archaeological excavation. This is not only a biographical piece about the man, but also a top piece of ethnographic, anthropological and archaeological research in a subject perhaps not very prominent in Europe.

Ra II - the boat with which Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic in 1970 trying to prove that there could have been a cultural interaction between the old mediterranean cultures such as Egypt the Americas.
Ra II – the boat with which Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic in 1970 trying to prove that there could have been a cultural interaction between the old mediterranean cultures such as Egypt the Americas.
The Kon Tiki expedition balsa.
The Kon Tiki expedition balsa.
Displays from the museum - the pannels are concise but present enough information. The objects perhaps are not displayed in the best way, but it works.
Displays from the museum – the panels are concise but present enough information. The objects perhaps are not displayed in the best way, but it works.

And that is all for today folks – I hope these brief looks at these 4 amazing exhibitions gets your wanderlust going so you embark in your own cultural expedition to Norway. See you in the next update!

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