Welcome to Oslo, the vibrant capital of Norway, where modernity meets history in a seamless blend. With an array of fascinating museums and galleries, this city has something for everyone. In this article, we will delve into the 5 most popular museums in Oslo and the 2 most famous galleries, while uncovering some of the unusual stories and myths associated with them. So, buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Oslo’s cultural scene!
- The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset)
The Viking Ship Museum is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in the legendary Viking era. Housing three well-preserved Viking ships—Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune—this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Vikings.
Legend has it that the spirit of the Oseberg Queen, buried with her ship, still haunts the museum. Some visitors claim to have seen a mysterious woman dressed in Viking attire, wandering the halls after dark, guarding her precious ship.
- The Munch Museum (Munchmuseet)
The Munch Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Edvard Munch, one of Norway’s most celebrated artists. Home to over 20,000 of his works, the museum provides an in-depth look at Munch’s artistry, including his most famous piece, “The Scream.”
In 2004, two armed men stormed the Munch Museum and stole “The Scream” and another painting, “Madonna.” The daring daylight heist made headlines worldwide, and it took the authorities two years to recover the stolen masterpieces.
- The Fram Museum (Frammuseet)
The Fram Museum is dedicated to the history of Norwegian polar exploration. The centerpiece of the museum is the Fram, the wooden ship that carried renowned explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup, and Roald Amundsen on their groundbreaking expeditions.
In 1897, one of the crew members on the Fram killed a polar bear, which was then stuffed and brought back to Norway. The bear was displayed in various locations before finally finding its home at the Fram Museum. However, in 2014, the bear met an unfortunate end when it was accidentally destroyed during a museum event. The mishap led to an extensive restoration process to bring the bear back to its former glory.
- The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum)
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is an open-air museum showcasing traditional Norwegian buildings and artifacts from various historical periods. With over 150 buildings, including the iconic Gol Stave Church, this museum offers a fascinating journey through Norway’s rich cultural history.
According to local lore, the Enerhaugen Manor, relocated to the museum from its original site in Oslo, is haunted by the spirit of a woman named Anne. Witnesses have reported strange occurrences, such as lights flickering, doors slamming, and an eerie presence near the manor. Many believe that Anne’s spirit is still searching for her long-lost lover.
- The Kon-Tiki Museum
The Kon-Tiki Museum is dedicated to the life and adventures of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The museum showcases the original Kon-Tiki raft and other vessels used by Heyerdahl in his daring expeditions, aiming to prove that early civilizations could have crossed vast distances by sea.
In 2013, it was discovered that Heyerdahl’s personal belongings, including his typewriter, had concealed spy cameras. While the reason for the surveillance remains a mystery, it is believed that foreign intelligence agencies may have been monitoring Heyerdahl’s activities during the Cold War.
- The National Gallery (Nasjonalgalleriet)
The National Gallery is one of Norway’s premier art institutions, housing an impressive collection of Norwegian and international art. Among its many treasures are works by famous artists such as Edvard Munch, Christian Krohg, and Vincent van Gogh.
One of the gallery’s paintings, “The Death of Marat” by Jacques-Louis David, is believed to be cursed. The painting has been connected to several unfortunate incidents, including fires, illness, and even a death. While the gallery attributes these occurrences to mere coincidence, the legend of the cursed painting persists.
- Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art is a contemporary art museum featuring an eclectic mix of international and Norwegian artists. The museum’s stunning waterfront location and unique architecture make it a must-visit for art lovers.
In 2012, the museum unveiled a controversial sculpture by British artist Marc Quinn, depicting supermodel Kate Moss in a provocative yoga pose. The piece, titled “Sphinx,” sparked heated debates about the boundaries of art and the objectification of women. Today, the sculpture remains a thought-provoking part of the museum’s collection.
- The Ekebergparken Sculpture Park
While not a traditional gallery, the Ekebergparken Sculpture Park is a beautiful outdoor space showcasing a stunning collection of sculptures. The park features works by renowned artists such as Salvador Dalí, Damien Hirst, and Louise Bourgeois, all set against the backdrop of Oslo’s picturesque skyline.
One of the park’s trees gained notoriety when it was mistakenly “vandalized” by the park’s own staff. The staff, intending to remove graffiti, accidentally stripped off a layer of the tree’s bark, leaving a noticeable mark. The incident led to public outcry, and the park ultimately decided to leave the tree as a reminder of the importance of protecting nature.
Fotogalleriet is a small, independent gallery that focuses on contemporary photography and new media art. The gallery’s exhibitions showcase both established and emerging artists, promoting innovative and thought-provoking works that push the boundaries of photography.
In 2010, Fotogalleriet exhibited the work of Norwegian artist Rune Johansen, whose photographs depicted abandoned houses throughout the Norwegian countryside. During the exhibition, one of the houses featured in Johansen’s photographs mysteriously burned down. While the fire was deemed accidental, the incident sparked rumors of a curse and added an eerie quality to Johansen’s work.
The museums and galleries of Oslo offer a diverse array of cultural experiences, from world-renowned art collections to lesser-known hidden gems. As you explore these fascinating institutions, be sure to keep an eye out for the unusual stories and myths that make each visit a memorable adventure. With so much to see and experience, there’s no doubt that Oslo’s cultural scene will leave a lasting impression on anyone who ventures into its captivating world.