Oslo is a great city for museum lovers. Norway’s capital might not have a party scene to rival Europe’s other major cities but it’s a cultural powerhouse. Historically, Norway’s most fascinating period is the Viking era. Countless dramatisations of the Vikings have turned them into mythic figures. Oslo has several museums dedicated to the Norsemen and their notorious conquests. See if you can separate fact from fiction.
You’ll also find excellent museums dedicated to the pioneers of the arctic expeditions, the resistance movement during WW2 and the folk history of Norway. Culture buffs will be in their element in the Norwegian capital.
Most of Oslo’s museums can be found in Bygdøy. It’s the most prosperous part of the city and home to some very swanky properties. It’s a great place to explore. There beaches and plenty of bars and restaurants in Bygdøy.
Viking Ship Museum
When you think of Oslo you think of Vikings and incredibly high living costs. The Vikings continue to fascinate. So many films, TV shows and books chronicling the Vikings and their gods have influenced popular culture. The Viking era is considered to cover 793-1066 AD. They came from Scandinavia and unleashed a devastating series of attacks across Europe. The first one was on the holy island of Lindisfarne. The last took place when Harald Hardrada attempted to conquer a portion of England. After that, times changed and raids became less profitable.
The largest surviving Viking ship can be found at Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum. You’ll find many other Viking relics to explore, including smaller ships, clothes and household goods. The raids many have stopped but the Vikings continue their endless quest to Ragnarök our TV screens.
The Norwegian Folk Museum
Located in the Bygdøy area, the Norwegian Folk Museum chronicles Norway’s history from the 13th to the 19th-centuries. It’s an open-air museum comprised of 160 historic buildings. The oldest is Gold Stave Church dating back to 1200. You can also learn about Sami culture.
It’s one of the biggest museums of its kind. You’ll be greeted by staff in traditional dress. It’s well worth taking a tour and learning about Norwegian folk history. It can feel like taking a step back through the centuries.
Thor Heyerdahl was one of the greatest explorers. His Kon-Tiki expedition of 1947 is legendary. He has a unique view of Polynesian culture, arguing that the Polynesian islands had been inhabited by people who sailed from the South American coast. To prove his point, he attempted to recreate the voyage they may have taken. It was an epic 6,900 km trip from Peru to French Polynesia. He arrived in August 1947. Whether his admittedly fanciful ideas are true has been questioned, but no one can doubt his passion and hunt for what Wener Herzog calls ecstatic truth. He lived his life like it was a movie. The Kon-Tiki Museum brings to life his voyage with many original artifacts.
Surrounded by many of Oslo’s best museum in the Bygdøy, the Fram Museum is dedicated to Norway’s polar expeditions. The first of its kind took place from 1888 – 1889. Six explorers made their way through some of the most forbidding territories on earth.
The centerpiece of the museum is the Fram ship itself, the world’s strongest wooden ship. You can go onboard and explore the engine room, cabins and cargo hold. At the museum, you can also learn about the northwest passage and the lives of the arctic pioneers.
Norway’s Resistance Museum
Despite declaring itself neutral at the outbreak of WW2, the Germans invaded Norway. Demanding total capitulation, the Norwegian government refused German demands and fought with some allied help. They were unable to resist the force of the Nazi war machine and Norway soon fell. The royal family and the government escaped to London.
As the war came to a close, the German troops in Norway surrendered without putting up a fight. During the occupation, many Norwegians bravely resisted. This museum was founded by resistors after the war. It shows the efforts of ordinary people to live and resist in an occupied country.
Now you’ve had your culture fix, find out where to party in Oslo: A Gay Guide to Oslo
by Alex | On: Gay Oslo