Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

10th July 2015

Museum Piece
Posted by at 8.05pm | No responses | Out and About

Oslo circa 1300

The Oslo City Museum is small but perfectly formed, with exhibits documenting the city’s storied history. And what a long history it is – there has been a settlement here, in one form or another, since approximately 1000 AD.

We started with a quick film on the history of Oslo, complete with animation of a comedy mammoth sinking into the sea to symbolise the end of the last Ice Age.

Most of the exhibits were in Norwegian. I realise that this is a ridiculously “little Englander” complaint, and it’s entirely fair that Oslo’s city museum uses the native language, but it was a bit of a problem for me. There were booklets offering a translation into English.

One interesting exhibition talked about the Norwegian women who, during the Nazi occupation of Norway, fraternised with the German soldiers. After the war they found themselves abused and ostracised by their fellow citizens. This exhibit told their story and asked whether their treatment was too harsh. It was fascinating, although I did annoy one group of visitors by standing right in front of a short film they were trying to watch. Beklager.

Oslo City Museum Oslo City Museum

Elsewhere, a series of displays chronicled the history of Norwegian kitchens (yes, really), from the earliest days of rubbing sticks together to start a fire. Here is the 1950s kitchen, adorned with bakelite appliances.

Oslo Kitchen

There was an exhibition covering the growth of “satellite towns” – planned new housing developments that could be compared to Britain’s post-war “new towns”, right down to the mockery and sneering at residents that took place. Another room, artefacts from the history of Oslo’s theatres were on show.

It was very interesting, and I could have stayed a bit longer, but I was running very late and I wanted to see the Norwegian National Gallery. I headed back to the tram stop (I found it right away this time!) and travelled back into the city centre.

I was seriously behind schedule at this point. Unfortunately the gallery closes at 5pm on Sundays, and it was already 4pm by the time I walked through its front door. I had to do something of an “edited highlights” tour.

National Gallery National Gallery

Still, I wasn’t quite as bad as the couple who walked in 15 minutes before closing time, shouted “Munch?” at a security guard, and then ran off in the direction she pointed. Yes, there is a room full of Munch paintings (including another version of The Scream) but this was the one room where photography wasn’t allowed. Boo.

I did snap another couple of photos. The Baroque Room, dominated by this huge tapestry, was interesting.

Baroque Room

Winter Night in the Mountains, by Harald Sohlberg, was another highlight, featuring snow-capped peaks that somehow seemed to glow on the canvas.

Winter Night in the Mountains

I did see more, but didn’t take many more photographs. Art is something to be appreciated close up, not second-hand via someone’s iPhone, so if you want to experience the best of Norwegian art, I recommend a visit (it’s free on Sundays!)

I escaped a few minutes before closing time and had some dinner at a nearby cafĂ©. Then I pondered what to do in the evening. I hadn’t made any plans, although I had considered sampling another gay bar. However, I was starting to feel really tired. Would it be terrible for me to retreat to my hotel room early? Probably, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing.

On Saturday night I stayed out late. Sunday night ended with me tucked up in bed by 8pm, reading a Jo Nesbo novel. Good times.

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