Vigeland Museum and Frogner Park

Vigeland Museum-8After we finish exploring Akershus Fortress we take the T-Bane over to the Vigeland Museum. This museum was the workplace and home to Gustav Vigeland, a Norwegian artist who negotiated free rent on this space for the future rights to his work with the government. This building houses his sculptures, woodcarvings, models, drawings, sketches and photographs of the artist through his years of work. His interesting sculptures are very modern and surreal which made for an interesting and thought provoking visit.

Vigeland was born in 1869 to a family of craftsmen and also designed the Nobel Peace Prize Medal. Vigeland moved to his new studio in Frogner Borough during 1924. His studio was located in the vicinity of Frogner Park, which he had chosen as the definitive location for his fountain. Over the following twenty years, Vigeland was devoted to the project of an open exhibition of his works, which later turned into the Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement in Frogner Park.  

Looking to the the Main Gate from the Plateau at Frogner Park

Looking to the the Main Gate from the Plateau

Right across the street from the museum is Frogner Park with the Vigeland Outdoor Sculpture Area.  We first stop at a corner 7-11 and pickup hot dogs, chips and drinks for a lunch in the park as not much else was open during the holiday. We join the thousands of other people enjoying the sunny holiday in the park while eating our picnic lunch. Frogner Park is the largest park in Oslo occupying a former manor house grounds of 80 acres. The park includes the Manor House and Vigeland Sculptural Exhibition area which houses 212 of his bronze and granite sculptures. There is no way we would be able to walk the entire park so we concentrate on the area between the museum, the Monolith Plateau, the Fountain and the Bridge which showcases Vigeland’s sculptures. What an enjoyable time exploring these sculptures and the park grounds. We cross the bridge, head to the T-Bane stop at the Main Gate on Kirkeveien and head back to our apartment after a glorious afternoon of walking.  This was the most crowded we saw the T-Bane during our time here and we had to wait for 2 trolleys before we were able board. Everyone was outside enjoying the weather and visiting with family and friends.

Such a wonderful day, Vigeland sculptures belong in a park. They are larger than life and make your mind explore the meaning behind them. A park for an afternoon stroll and picnic lunch in the beautiful sunshine.

Kon Tiki Museum

Next door to the Fram Museum was the Kon Tiki Museum honoring Thor Hyerdahl’s adventures aboard the Kon Tiki and Ra II.

The Kon Tiki, a balsa wood pre-Columbian ship design that sailed in 1947 from Peru to Polynesia is a 30 foot by 15 foot raft of nine balsa wood logs designed and built to prove that sea travel could have been possible by the South American population and they could have populated the South Pacific. After covering 4,300 nautical miles in 101 days, an average speed of 42.5 miles per day they reached Polynesia. 

The Ra II was built of reeds based on ancient Egyptian design and sailed from North Africa to the Caribbean. On May 17, 1970, Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl and crew set out from Morocco across the Atlantic Ocean, Heyerdahl thought that Mediterranean civilizations sailed to the America’s and exchanged cultures with the people of Central and South America. The crossing of 4,000 miles of ocean to Barbados took 57 days.    

What interesting people the Norwegians are, they love the outdoors, travel and exploration. When I hear my distant relatives probably have Viking blood it is no wonder my family loves to explore and travel to see new and interesting destinations.

 

Fram Museum; Oslo, Norway. A Tale of a Norwegian Polar Expedition

Leaving the apartment early we jump on the T-Bane for the harbor to catch the ferry to Bygdoy for our Norwegian maritime history lesson for the day.  After a delightful ride we exit the ferry right at our destination, 3 separate Norwegian Maritime Museums.

Maritime Museums from the water

Maritime Museums from the water

Fram Arctic Expedition Map

Fram Expedition Map

First up is the Fram Museum, which tells the story of a Norwegian Polar Expedition taken between 1893 and 1896. The ship, the Fram, was commissioned by explorer Fridtjf Nansen and built in 1891 by Colin Archer to reach the north pole by using the shifting ice flows. The museum was built in 1936 to house the ship and explain the 5-year polar exploration of the 12 brave men. The 36’x128’ double ended ship was built with a shallow draft, a 24”-28” thick hull, 3 masts, and a rounded hull to ride up on the ice flow. It was also supplied with a wind generator to supply electricity to power the experiments and men’s needs. It was amazing these men survived the trip frozen in the ice flow for so long with no means of resupply. The map attached shows the extent of their voyage.

The expedition never reached the pole due to the shifting ice current and Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen decided to head out by dog sledges to reach the pole. That proved unsuccessful due to the ice flows and the 2 made their way south to Franz Josef Land where they made camp for the winter.

The Fram meanwhile continued west then made a southerly course swing on the ice flow to emerge into open waters and make it’s way back to Oslo. Nansen and Johansen were picked up by a British explorer who took them back to civilization at the same time the Fram emerged from the ice.

It was very interesting to walk the decks, inside and outside, and see how these men lived and survived during that voyage. These were brave men who risked their lives for adventure and discovery with no means of support, communication or rescue. The exploration was not a failure as the crew brought back a lot of information previously not known. Here are some photos of the ship and museum.  

 

Norsk Folkemueum; Oslo, Norway

After our 2-3 hour exploration of the Viking Ships we board the bus for the short trip to the Norsk Folkemueum (link) just down the road.

Norsk Folkemuseum Map

Norsk Folkemuseum Map

Arriving at the museum we gain access using the Oslo Pass (link) again without an admission fee. Founded in 1894 the Outdoor museum is Norway’s largest Cultural History museum that includes 160 buildings from around the country and 230,000 artifacts from the 1500’s to the present. The grounds include architecture and artifacts from towns, country farms and estates and all social classes. It is interesting to see the folk art, costumes, toys, exhibits, artifacts and life from the areas these buildings were brought from. They have costumed actors in some of the buildings providing insights into the daily life and crafts during the time period of that building, the actors are so happy to discuss how life was during that time period with any guest entering. The Stave Church is one of 5 medieval buildings from the 1200’s and is very impressive both inside and out. It was deconstructed and moved to the museum when the congregation needed a larger church. Our bodies need refueling so we stop in for a very good quick lunch of sandwiches, desert and drinks in the museum café and head back out to continue our exploration of the grounds. (Text continues below gallery)

After a full day of walking at 5 PM we jump back on the bus, transfer to the T-Bane and arrive at our apartment for dinner and then off to the store to pick a few snacks for tomorrows adventures.

During all the vacations Jodi (a graphic artist) and I (architect) take you will notice a pattern, we love history, art, architecture and the culture of the country we visit. Both our families have members that have immigrated to the USA from Europe since the early 1600’s and we have visited places that just feel comfortable to us, only later to find out that our forefathers came from that area 100’s or 1,000’s of years ago.

Going to museums, art galleries, walking the streets and alleys of a destination, eating where locals dine and talking with people are the best ways to understand the similarities and differences of our countries. Never ask where to go to eat always ask where they would go to eat. It is pleasant to learn by seeing and actively participating in the ways of other cultures. We have met very wonderful and colorful individuals in our travels and would not change the way we travel for anything. We have discussed governments with the owner of a Laundromat outside of Amsterdam while we did laundry, and discussed local sites to visit during breakfast with the family of a B&B in Southern France, during all these encounters we have had wonderful conversations with so many people. Getting on the ground, staying and eating with locals rather than other tourists is amazing (better and inexpensive). Going to a café or restaurant and not being able to read a menu can bring unexpected delights, very seldom not so much, but that is the adventure. We have never been treated with disrespect and it seems a majority are willing to do their best to converse and help us with our travels.

Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum) Oslo, Norway

We are staying in the Schous Plass area of Oslo and head to the Schous Plass T-Bane stop to catch the trolley to the downtown area where we’ll need a transfer to a bus to Bygdoy for our visit to the Vikingskipshuset and the Norsk Folkemuseum, our adventures for today’s Norwegian history lesson. Continue reading

Royal Palace and the Museum of Medieval Stockholm

Stockholm Royal Palace

Royal Palace

Our first visit after wandering around the streets in morning was Kungliga Slottet (link), the Royal Palace, a magnificent baroque style building by the Architect Nicodemus Tessin. This is the King of Sweden’s residence with over 600 rooms on seven floors with a state apartment. The Royal Palace of Stockholm is His Majesty The King’s official residence and is also the setting for most of the monarchy’s official receptions. The palace is a daily place of work for The King and Queen as well as for the various departments that make up the Royal Court.

This combination of royal residence, workplace and culture-historical monument open year round to visitors makes the Royal Palace of Stockholm unique amongst Europe’s royal residences.

The palace contains many interesting things to see. In addition to the Royal Apartments there are three museums steeped in regal history: the Treasury with the regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that portrays the palaces medieval history and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.

Before entering this residence we must first put all our bags and cameras (yes even phones) in a locker and don little bootees over our shoes to protect the floors and carpets. As with all European palaces this one does not disappoint in its opulence. What a shame we could not take any pictures inside to share but as with any of these palaces you must experience them in person to understand the grandness of the spaces.

16th Century ModelAfter our long walk inside the Royal Palace we head over to the underground Stockholm Medeltidmuseum (link) (Museum of Medieval Stockholm). This museum is the largest excavation in Stockholm under the Riksdagshuset (Parliament House) and on Riksplan Plaza, this museum houses 55 feet of the original 16th century fortified wall, a 1520’s war ship, the Riddarholmsskeppetand, reconstructed buildings and artifacts from the time period. The exhibits tell of Stockholm’s emergence and the town’s development in the Middle Ages. The exhibition inside describes with compassion how the people lived and made a livelihood. It was very interesting to see the life and history of the people of Stockholm during the 16th century.

Strombron Bridge

Strombron Bridge

 

Vasa Museet, the colossal ship that sank shortly on it’s maiden voyage.

After a brief rest at Skansen Outdoor Museum (link) off we go to finish our tour of the 75 acre museum then grab the T-Bana back to the Vasa Museet (link). Going 2 stops we get off the T-Bana cross the street and walk the short distance to the museum. Inside we are greeted by a massive wooden ship that was built between 1626 to 1628 and sank only 1,400 yards into her maiden voyage. It sat on the bottom of the bay until it was raised in 1961 and placed in the museum.

Vasa Sailing Ship

Vasa Sailing Ship

A colossal ship that was to hold 450 men of whom 300 were soldiers, 48 – 24 # cannon, 8 – 5# cannon and 2 – 1# cannon on 2 decks. It sank as the tall, top heavy ship caught a crosswind in its sails and capsized very quickly as the gun ports were open to show how mighty the ship was to the citizens of Stockholm. 100 crew including wives and children were lost in the sinking as the citizens of Stockholm watch in horror.

Grona Land Amusement Park

Grona Land Amusement Park

After walking all 4 floors of the Vasa  Museet we decided to walk over and visit Grona Lund (link), an amusement park with roller coasters, thrill rides, games, concerts and restaurants, that is also located on the Island. Being part of the Stockholm Card with free admission was a plus for us so we were able to walk through and see what the park has to offer. We walked most of the park and it looks like a fun place to spend some time at as it is along the same lines as the old pier amusement parks in America in the 50’s and 60’s, Blackpool (link) in England and Prater Park (link) in Vienna, Austria. We had a great time seeing the park but we are tired from our day’s walking and the 9 hour time change is starting to take it’s toll so we head back to our room for a stop at the market for more goodies and drinks, stop by a restaurant for something to eat and to rest for the next days adventure.