We used to take our kids to museums. All.The.Time. No, really. If you asked them where we went on vacations, I would expect them to say as part of their answer, “You mean besides museums?” Well, nothing wrong with a little education while on vacation, I always say. In light of that, Paul and I had planned to go into Oslo one time this summer and spend the day at the (mainly) outdoor Norsk Folkemuseum. We had not gone to visit this museum on either of the times we have been here, for whatever reason, maybe weather. They are open all year round, but, I tell you, it would not be very comfortable traipsing around the expansive grounds in the middle of winter.
We had mentioned our intent to do this to our friends, Otto and Grethe, and they had not been there in, I am guessing, about 50 years, so we all decided to go together. Yesterday was supposed to be good weather and no rain, so they picked us up at 10 am. We skipped the inside exhibits and went straight for the outdoor regional buildings and ‘living history’ part of the museum. Their grounds are divided up in Norwegian regions with the featured buildings having originated in those regions and painstakingly taken apart and rebuilt in the appropriate area in the museum. The regions featured are Telemark, Hallingdal, Numedal, Setesdal, Valdres, Østlandet, Hardanger, Sunn- og Nordfjord (Southern and Northern Fjords), Trøndelag, Østerdal, and the inner-city area of Oslo (circa 1910), Enerhaugen. They also feature a stave church from Gol which was built in the 13th century up on a hill. I think this must be the most photographed building on the premises. On up another hill (what is it with the Norwegians and their hills?) was a typical mountain ‘hytte’ from 1937. It was extremely primitive and had beds for eight people! Families could have been quite large.
There were costumed workers all around doing period-appropriate activites and answering all questions–lefse baking (their recipe included eggs and baking soda–gasp!), Norwegian fairy tales told in front of a roaring fireplace, weaving, pottery, silversmith, making coffee (in the 1959 house–where the ‘wife’ had been drinking coffee on the front porch with her classic “Farmer’s Rose” pattern china), horse-drawn buggy rides, merchants in their shops, and others. There were, every hour, folk music and dancing performances in the Telemark region. One interesting place was the festival grounds and how the museum encouraged visitors to bring food and picnic there–we passed it from a distance, but could see many people grilling their meats on large public grills. I think the museum sold drinks and the meats for grilling as well. Great concept.
Walking around with Otto and Grethe was like having our own living history experts. Several times, one or the other would explain the reason why an outbuilding or home was built that way, or how the animals were kept, or that they used to use that product, or, on one occasion, Otto broke into song and sang the entire “Fredag Song” which was written on the chalkboard in the one-room schoolhouse! I really wish I had a video of that! Oh, and there was one building in the Hallingdal region (where Otto and Grethe grew up and still have a house) whose original owner (according to the name on the placard) was Otto’s great-great-…grandfather! Wow.
We stopped mid-day for a coffee (or, in the case of Paul, a $5.50 12 oz. Coke), water, and a smørbrød. Can’t walk around all day on nuthin’. We even ran into someone we all knew from church–Kenneth is an American who has lived in Norway for many years, and , on the side, is a tour guide for groups of Americans who are touring Norway.
Yesterday was a special day at the museum, due to celebrating Midsummer’s Day, and they were staying open late for a concert and a parade, but we left around 4 pm.
More to do. Like bake an apple pie for our ‘hytte tur’ which begins tomorrow! Adventures await!