A Millennium Of Collecting: Oslo's Astounding Museums
In any case, we are just a few decades short of Oslo’s 1,000th anniversary. And that thousand years of history makes the city a perfect place for a firm establishment of museums to take root. Indeed, the city is a veritable treasure trove of exhibitions that vary greatly in theme yet all sharing a sense of grandiosity and reverent preservation in this storied land.
With all those centuries of collecting, one could be overwhelmed with the choices of such places to visit. History itself is housed in many of these institutions, with artefacts gathered representing every stage of Norway’s rich past. Science is highly valued here and those with a thirst for knowledge will also encounter fantastic offerings. Local interests and foundations offer experiences visitors will find nowhere else. Everything from warring Vikings to celebrated people of peace can be found in Oslo’s fabled museums.
Never Far Behind
The Norwegian people are proud of their history. Whether it’s scenes of the Middle Ages or 20th-century achievements, great pains have been taken to preserve the past and inspire folks with the story of Oslo and Norway. Start off with the Oslo City Museum (Frognerveien 67) and its collection of artefacts and photos chronicling the city’s evolution. The Museum of Cultural History (Frederiks gate 2) is a great collection of artifacts with everything from antique coins to authentic period clothing from throughout the ages.
Across the fjord from the city’s centre is the Norwegian Folk Museum (Museumsveien 10, on the Bygdøy peninsula). This open-air space has preserved and restored old Norwegian houses, setting up a veritable old village. In the summertime, staff dressed in period-specific clothes turn the restoration into a living representation of the past. Those seeking a military retrospective can head to the Armed Forces Museum (Akershus festning, Bygning 62). Here you will see everything from Viking swords to modern attack helicopters.
Food for the Spirit and the Mind
The arts and sciences are the twin inspirations for human consciousness. Whether we seek to stimulate our intelligence or our emotions, seeing great paintings or dinosaur fossils can fire up our brains. Oslo caters to both hemispheres of our minds. Knowledge seekers can begin at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology (Kjelsåsveien 143). Here are over 100 interactive installations focusing on everything from electronics to laser cutters. At the Natural History Museum (Sars’ gate 1), visitors delight in collections of animal dioramas, megafauna bones and the “Tree of Life” exhibit.
If art stimulates your synapses, you’re in luck. Renowned local artists have entire buildings dedicated to their work. The Munch Museum (53 Tøyengata, Gamle) houses many oeuvres of the famed “The Scream” painter Edgar Munch. The incredible sculptures of Gustav Vigeland are on display at both The Vigeland Museum (Nobels gate 32) and just to the north, the Vigeland Sculpture Park. These figures will take your breath away! And in 2020, the National Museum of Art, which has been closed down, will be premiering as a bigger, better collection in a brand-new building.
And Now, The Unexpected
Ready for some unique collections? Norway’s history of ocean navigation has sprouted a cluster of museums in the Bygdøy peninsula. The Viking Ship Museum (Huk Aveny 35) has complete reconstructions of these legendary assault vessels. The Fram Museum (Bygdøynesveien 36) houses the schooner by the same name, famous for its intrepid polar exploration in the 19th century (and yes, you can actually go inside the ship!). At the Kon-Tiki Museum (Bygdøynesveien 36), see the tiny balsa boat Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl used to cross the Pacific Ocean. Finally, the Norwegian Maritime Museum (Bygdøynesveien 37) will fill in the rest of the blanks in this nation’s seafaring history.
When you’ve seen enough boats, go beyond to other unusual museums in Oslo. The Nobel Peace Center (Brynjulf Bulls plass 1) explores the history of the Peace Prize laureates, collecting artefacts related to their great accomplishments. Then take a leap of faith at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Tower (Kongeveien 5), a ski museum built at the base of a gigantic ski jump! And round out this tour of off-center Oslo Museums at the Norway Resistance Museum (Bygning 21), which houses artefacts from the Nazi resistance fighters of WWII.