Notes on the Geography of Norway: Oslo: the Norwegian Folk Museum
For sheer astonishment, damned few European museums can match the unpretentious, outdoor Norsk Folkemuseum. This is woodwork on the grand scale, not grand in the sense of opulence but grand in a better sense. For starters, tremendous.
The former entrance, thinking like a forest.
Some explanation. The sign omits Moltke Moe, Norway's first professor of folklore. In a speech given at the establishment of the museum, Moe wrote that "the aim of this collection is to give the Norwegian people a picture of the life that was lived in Norway down through the centuries, our fathers' ways of building houses, their furniture, their tools and utensils, their dress, in short the entire environment in which they moved and lived, and about which the memory now is gradually fading. (Quoted in Anne Eriksen, From Antiquities to Heritage, 2014, p. 103)
A milepost from about 1830.
Old when that milepost was young: a loft from about 1300, judged by the round logs, notches, and runic inscription. There was a bedroom upstairs, along with storage for cloth; the lower floor was for food storage. Sometime in the 1700s the structure was raised onto posts.
Exterior column, outrageously overbuilt from the viewpoint of forest conservation, yet, once built, next to eternal.
The doorway, massive yet tender.
A smaller loft and bur, dated 1754.
Delicate in comparison, but the tracery of the gallery was added at the end of the 18th century, when the elevating posts were added as well.
"They don't build like that anymore." Yes, but this house, a replica, was built in 1993 as a test. Call it a snakebite joint.
The real thing, this time from 1650-1700. It's open-hearth, with a fireplace without chimney.
Another loft from 1650-1700. It's unusual to have three stories.
The most inspiring building in the museum. That's a cylindrical apse on the left.
Front view. (The church was to close in late 2011 for renovations over two years.)
It's called a stave church, the name coming from the whole-timber columns framing the nave.
The church was moved here in 1880 and the exterior was rebuilt at that time with new materials. Only the interior has original staves.
Further detail: the church originally stood in Gol, 80 miles to the northwest. A painting of it by J.M. Prahm in 1846 shows that it had been radically modernized. In the painting, the church has no dragon-head gable ends, and it has no peripheral outside gallery. The lower roof, in other words, is missing. Instead of the belfry seen here, the church has a central spire about as high as the church itself. Apparently, the church at Borgund was used as a model in reconstruction. (For a reproduction of Prahm's painting, see Jiri Havran's Norwegian Stave Churches, 2010?, p.88.)
From another angle.
Door proper, with one of the original timber staves at the far right.
Casting an eye upright.
The upper part of the nave.
Before the reformation, the church was brightened by candle-lit paintings of saints.
The decoration was removed after the Reformation but the painting of the Last Supper were added in 1652. Later additions of windows, benches, and a pulpit have all been removed.
Closeup; the apse also carries the Lord's Prayer in Latin.
Does any of this tradition carry over into Norway today? Do ducks have lips?
Simple country church, outside Oslo.
Residential interior (from the Folk Museum).
A last glimpse of that magic, not so different from the hypostyle halls of ancient Egypt.
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