NORWAY  |  Oslo, Norway Travel Guide
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Museums of Oslo

Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893) at the National Museum of Art in Oslo, Norway
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Museums of Oslo

Oslo is the cultural center of Norway. It should therefore come as no surprise that the city has a disproportionately large number of superb museums, most of them within easy distance of the city center. Some of the most famous ones are located in Bygdøy, the peninsula just west of downtown Oslo and easily accessible from the city center, where you can spend an entire day just museum hopping. Oslo's museums are also surprisingly inexpensive; in fact, with the Oslo Pass - available from the city's tourist bureaus - most of the museums offer free admission. Here, then, are some the top, do-not-miss museums of Oslo.

Norsk Folkemuseum

The Norsk Folkemuseum, situated on Bygdøy, adjacent to some of the other famous museums of Oslo, is an open-air museum and easily the best in its genre. Museum exhibits are centered primarily around Norwegian culture and traditions. The stave church here was bought by the union king, Oskar II, in 1885 and transported from its original place in Hallingsdal. Much of the foundation is from the Middle Ages, while the roof has been renovated to make it look like Borgund Stave Church, one of the most famous in Norway. As is the case with most open-air museums, this one, too, is well suited to children. Still, there are several exhibits and events here to interest all age groups.

Oseberg Viking Ship Museum

The Oseberg Viking Ship Museum is another attraction at the museum-rich Bygdøy. The Viking ship is one of the main reasons for our fascination with these seafarers from the past and Oseberg has the three best-preserved ships in the world. The ships were found about 100 years ago in Oseberg in the county of Vestfold, not far from Oslo, where the blue clay soil had preserved them amazingly well for about 1,100 years. The museum also has some of the best evidence we have today of fabric and weaving techniques from the Viking Age, found in and around the boats, along with many tools and weapons.

National Museum of Art

Oslo's National Museum of Art is particularly worth visiting. It is located adjacent to the university, only a couple of blocks from Karl Johan. The museum contains an astonishingly extensive collection of both Norwegian and international art, including the Munch masterpiece, The Scream, which was briefly stolen from the museum a few years ago.

Munch Museum

The Munch Museum is dedicated entirely to the works of Edvard Munch, the most famous Norwegian artist in history. In fact, Much is considered one of the pioneers in Expressionism. His Skrik (The Scream) is one of the most recognized paintings in the world. The Munch Museum is approximately a 10-minute walk from Karl Johan, and hugely rewarding, for it houses thousands of Munch’s paintings, donated to the city in accordance with his last will.

Henie-Onstad Museum

The Henie-Onstad Museum is Oslo’s museum of contemporary art and is in Høvikodden, a 15-minute bus ride west of the city, in a tranquil environment on the Oslofjord. The paintings were donated by the former Olympic ice-skating champion Sonja Henie and her husband Niels Onstad, a famous Norwegian ship owner. During years of traveling the world, the couple amassed a collection of several hundred works of art, which they eventually offered for the public's enjoyment. The museum, which opened in 1968, contains works of art by such masters as Picasso, Matisse and several others. There’s also a separate room with all the medals and trophies from Sonja Henie’s career, over 600 in total. Another reason to visit this museum is to revel in the beautiful surroundings, including the big sculpture park just outside. Which is why Henie-Onstad is best visited during the summer months.  

Last updated December 14, 2013
Posted in   Norway  |  Oslo
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