For anyone with even a passing interest in history, Norway offers one of the finest networks of museums anywhere. There are over 800 museums to choose from and Oslo has more than anywhere else. Several are in the downtown area but my favourites are in the suburbs.
For the traveler with limited time, the Bygdøy peninsula, a short ferry or bus trip from downtown Oslo, is a must-visit. Located within a few blocks of each other are five museums offering a widely varied view of Norway’s past, from farming and religion to shipbuilding and exploration.
The Norwegian Folk Museum is home to a wide array of buildings and related artifacts. Guides in folk dress add to the flavour of the complex during the summer months.
The Norwegian Maritime Museum, founded in 1914, which houses a vast collection of ships, boats, and related artifacts and other material. Of particular note is the museum’s boat collection, which ranges from dugout canoes to polar exploration ships and a modern racing sloop.
The Fram Museum preserves the polar exploration ship Fram, which, between 1893 and 1925, sailed further north and further south than any other surface vessel. Fridtjof Nansen designed her specifically for ice-choked waters, and he spent the years 1893–1896 sailing and/or drifting in the Arctic seas. Otto Sverdrup then used her to explore northwestern Greenland from 1898 to 1902. Finally, between 1910 and 1925, Roald Amundsen took her to both the Arctic and Antarctic on four trips.
The Viking Ship Museum houses three ships found in large burial mounds in the Oslo fjord region. The best-preserved Viking ships in existence, each contained a wealth of material, both decorative and utilitarian, dating back 1200 years.
The Kon-Tiki Museum preserves two boats used by Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. He gained fame for his voyages across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in boats built with prehistoric designs and materials. The boats are the raft Kon-Tiki, with which he proved in 1947 that the first Polynesians could have come from South America rather than Southeast Asia as had always been accepted, and the papyrus Ra II which he sailed from Morocco to Barbados in 1970.
Don’t rush these museums because there is much to see. Each could take 1.5 hours of your time. The Norwegian Folk museum will take longer than 1.5 hours particularly if you want to see the extensive outdoor area. This is probably the most interesting part of the museum with the stave church one of the highlights.
You can reach the Bygdøy peninsula museums on the No 30 bus from the Central station and the national theatre. In summer, a more picturesque trip is by No 91 ferry from a jetty near the town hall.
If you are visiting the Bygdøy peninsula museums by boat, remember that the ferry always travels in an anti-clockwise direction and there are two stops on the peninsula. You need to visit the Viking ship and Folk museums first (Dronningen dock) and then go on to the others (Bygdoynes dock). You can walk between the museums in about 15 minutes if you don’t want to wait for a ferry at Dronningen.
If you are a museum fan, the Oslo Card is a good deal. This gives you free access to 33 museums, free public transport, free parking in municipal car parks and some other benefits. You can get a pass for 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. The cost per adult pass is 270, 395 and 495 Kroner respectively and 120, 145 and 190 for seniors and children.
Thought to Ponder.
Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions. They’re more easily handled than dumb mistakes.
William Wister Haines.
For more information on Norway see Experience Norway an ebook available at www.amazon.com/kindle then search Len Rutledge.