Norwegian Folk Museum

BBuildings from rural and urban Norway – from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Norsk Folkemuseum is located at Bygdøy in Oslo and has an Open-Air Museum with 160 historic buildings. A main attraction is Gol Stave Church from around 1200. In-door exhibits feature Norwegian folk costumes, folk art, church art and Sami culture. Temporary exhibits, audience programs and activities for children all year.

Norsk Folkemuseum shows how people lived in Norway from 1500 to the present through its collections from around the country,.

Norsk Folkemuseum is Norway’s largest museum of cultural history. The160 buildings in the Open-Air Museum represent different regions in Norway, different time periods, as well as differences between town and country, and social classes. The Gol Stave Church dating from 1200 is one of five medieval buildings at the museum. The contemporary history is presented through exhibitions and documentation projects. Permanent indoor exhibitions include folk art, folk costumes, toys and Sami culture. There is also a variety of temporary exhibitions and audience programs all year round.

The Stave Church from Gol

The old stave church at Gol was due for replacement by a new church around 1880. The Sociecty for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments bought the old church and presented it to King Oscar II, who paid for its rebuilding on Bygdøy.

Only about 1/3 of the materials in the dismantled church, those considered to be from the Middle Ages, were sent from the site. It was therefore a highly recontstructed church that was rebuilt using Borgund Stave Church in Sogn as an example.

The lofty west and south portals are richly carved with entwined dragonand plant motifs. The west portal is original, while that to the south is acopy from 1884. The carved heads uppermost on the staves can be glimpsed in thedim light filtering in through the peepholes far above. The church was mostlikely decorated in Catholic times with colorful paintings of the saints. Thereare numerous runic inscriptions and carvings dated to the early Middle Ages inthe church. Most are in the chancel and show animal figures, humans andgeometric symbols. The runes on a pillar in the nave can be read as “Kiss me,because I am so sad”, and may refer to a saint’s picture once hung on thepillar.

After the Reformation in 1537, all fixtures from the Catholic period were removed and replaced by the galleries and pulpits usually found in post-Reformation church interiors. As mentioned above, a few examples of Lutheran church art, name lythe wall paintings in the chancel and apse from 1652, have been preserved. The paintings were paid for by the members of the congregation whose names are written on the wall of the chancel. Other preserved objects include a lectern inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer and a baptismal font.