FX Excursions

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6 of Oslo’s Best Museums

by Debra Bokur

Jun 5, 2024

© Frammuseet / T. Storm Halvorsen

Daily

One of the most fascinating cities within the Nordic region, Norway’s capital city of Oslo is a Museum lover’s dream. In addition to downtown choices, there’s a wonderful cluster of museums along the water just a short hop from the center of town, easily accessible via Oslo’s efficient and highly organized public transport system (the Oslo Pass app makes for simple, easy planning and complimentary access to many museums). Hop the bus and set off to explore these exceptional locations:

Munch Museum

© VisitOSLO / Didrick Stenersen

Munch Museum

Home to a staggering permanent collection of works by Norway’s Modernist master, Edvard Munch, this fabulous museum towers over the waters of Oslofjord. Inside, art lovers can immerse themselves in themed floors with exhibitions of Munch’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos (he loved to take selfies), graphic art and works in film. Among the collection are etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, hectographs and experimental combinations that blend these various techniques. And yes, the artist’s iconic The Scream (Shrik) is on display — there are actually four versions, with three of the four works (a painting, print and drawing) always on display; only one is illuminated at a time on a rotating basis throughout the hour. Spanning 13 floors, the museum also includes a ground-floor café; 13th-floor Skybar; and 12th-floor Bistro Tolvte, serving Norwegian specialties in an elegant setting with fabulous views. This floor is also home to Sky Room, which hosts regular performances, club nights and enlightening discussions with art experts.

Kon-Tiki

© VisitOSLO / Didrick Stenersen

Kon-Tiki Museum

Devoted to the life and adventures of Thor Heyerdahl (1914–2002), the Norwegian sailing daredevil who crossed the Pacific on a raft built of balsawood, this museum is home to original vessels, a 98-foot cavern with a collection of sculptures gathered on Easter Island, an underwater exhibit and Heyerdahl’s personal library. Films and exhibitions delve into the explorer’s expedition with his wife Liv to set up residence on Fatu Hiva Island in Polynesia; life among the Kwakiutl peoples of British Columbia; and Heyerdahl’s monumental journeys aboard Kon-Tiki, Ra and Tigris (the latter two constructed of reeds). Daily beginning at noon, the 1950 Oscar-winning documentary Kon-Tiki (Sandrew Metronome) is screened in the museum’s cinema room.

Oslo

© VisitOSLO/Pål Laukli

The National Museum

You’ll need to come early, stay late or plan on more than a single visit: With bragging rights as the location of the largest art museum within the Nordic countries, this vast structure houses the combined collections of the former National Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art and Norwegian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design. Located near the ferry harbor, this museum is home to a permanent collection of approximately 6,500 works representing Norwegian art, architecture and design dating to antiquity and embracing around 3,000 years. Organized by time period, there are 80 rooms that provide a comprehensive look at the country’s history, social structure and political outlook through artistic expression.

Folk Museum

© Trine Sirnes

Norsk Folkemuseum

A campus of 160 historic buildings filled with thought-provoking exhibitions detailing the lives of Norwegians from the 16th century onward, this part open-air museum is divided into three areas and is a day-long adventure. Visitors can explore authentic settings that include a sod- roofed farm house, bathhouse, a reconstructed old town, stave church dating to 1200, a 19th– century apartment building’s elegant interiors and other structures from around Norway. These exhibits are augmented with folk and fine art, weapons, textiles and other artifacts, Sami cultural items, and so much more.

Norway

© Frammuseet / T. Storm Halvorsen

The Fram

Arguably one of the best museums in existence, The Fram’s architectural shape was built to accommodate its star exhibit: the indomitable Fram, which sailed into record-breaking history, surpassing all previous records for farthest north and farthest south during her expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. You can go onboard to see what life was like for legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, Otto Sverdrup, Oscar Wisting and their canine companions. Engrossing exhibits include Cold Recall, a variety of lantern slides used by Amundsen during his lecture circuit. Watch as explorers make first contact with an enormous and very curious penguin, and marvel over artifacts, photos and physical belongings of some of the world’s bravest travelers. Visitors can also get a sense of what the exploration team faced in the museum’s Polar Simulator. The Gjøa building, adjacent to the main museum, houses the actual Gjøa ship, with exhibits dedicated to the Arctic and Northwest Passage.

Maritime museum

© VisitOSLO / Didrick Stenersen

Norwegian Maritime Museum/Norsk Maritimt Museum

This fascinating dive into the seafaring history of Norway includes exhibits of Viking Age boat builders and an actual Viking vessel, the Gram Collection of maritime paintings, the lives of seafarers, ship models, and an underwater cave constructed to reveal both real and mythical sea creatures. Visitors can also explore the midsection of the century-old passenger ship DS Sandnæs.

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