Sunday, August 12, 2012

Angst and Art in Oslo

We came up with a perfect strategy to make the most out of Oslo with the Oslo Pass, buying a 24 hour pass for 270 kroner, and then starting it at lunchtime on Thursday, so that we got Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for sightseeing, rather than trying to wear ourselves out cramming a million activities into one day. It was a good money-saver too - I think if we'd paid for everything, including a 24-hour transport pass, separately, it would have 470 kroner (65€). Everything's so dear in Oslo, it pays to economise where you can!

Anyway, in accordance with the plan, we were up bright and early on Friday morning to go to the Munch Museum. I had seen (photos of) maybe three or four Munch works only, so other than this:


Munch was pretty new to me. I was pleasantly surprised with his oeuvre. While some of it was dark in emotional tenor (as you'd expect from a man who had a nervous breakdown), most of the works were colourful and sometimes even humorous.

In person, The Scream is beautiful, especially the colours of the sunset and the way the swirling, flowing lines work together in harmony throughout the painting. There are four versions of The Scream - the one in the Munch museum is the latest, from 1910 - and it is one of a set of three paintings: The Scream, Anxiety and Despair. This version of The Scream was stolen in 2004 and not recovered until two years later.

You'd think he'd have used the same-sized canvas

The Murderer

I think this was just called Model on a Couch or something. Munch wasn't very creative with his titles

And this was something like Girl in a Red Dress on a Couch (or similar)
The Munch Museum was quite small (a good size, really) and only took about 45 minutes to look through. Then it was off to the Historical Museum before our pass ran out. The ground floor featured Norwegian history from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. My favourite part was the Middle Ages (of course), especially a spectacular painted ceiling from a wooden Stave Church, dating to the late 13th century. Upstairs they had ethnographic collections, including Egyptian mummies, Arctic peoples, and North and South America; Norwegian coins through the ages (I was surprised to see they only started making coins with holes in the middle in the 20th century, I wonder why); and temporary exhibitions, this time including an exhibition on horses which was much more interesting than I, not a horsey person, would have expected.

The Viking section featured a ton of these bizarre cloth creations, here featuring the goddess Freya

Judging by the hammer, this is Thor

A medieval altar cover. These guys' facial expressions crack me up

Got an enemy, a severed horse's head, and a wooden pole? Then make a Nithing Pole in order to bring down the wrath of the gods on your enemies! A totally sane how-to guide in the horse exhibition

The fantastic 13th century painted ceiling

Close-up of Elizabeth visiting the Virgin Mary

Herod listening to the devil telling him to slaughter the innocents

A carved doorway from a Stave Church telling the story of Sigurd slaying the dragon. This is the same story that features in the Nibelungen. I actually read this story in the original medieval Icelandic (the Völsunga Saga) when I was at university. Don't ask me to read any medieval Icelandic these days though!

Gunnar, another character in the saga of Sigurd, was thrown into a pit of serpents for some reason. He played the harp with his toes and managed to send all the serpents except one to sleep. The remaining serpent bit him to death. Bummer.

Ha, this guy! We saw the carved version of this head at the Viking Ship museum, but I like him even better chilling out here.

An unusual Viking water jug

After the museum, we chilled out for a bit in the sunshine and then walked down to the sea to check out some lovely views of the city and the harbour from the site of Akershus castle and fortress, originally built in the late 13th century, but much altered over the years.

Fountain in front of the town hall

Part of the Akershus Castle and Fortress

View of the harbour

If you've ever wondered what I sound like, you can hear my obnoxious accent and inane commentary in this video of the view from the fortress:

In the evening, we had a lovely meal of tapas near our apartment, including patatas bravas that were miles better than I had in Barcelona, lovely soft bread with aioli, delicious chicken, tender squid, spicy chorizo, etc. All topped off with (in my case) a yummy chocolate mousse cake with a tasty raspberry coulis. I think we did very well navigating through the menu as well, since it was only in Spanish and Norwegian!

We're taking a wee roadtrip up north tomorrow. It's been mostly lovely weather so far, so fingers crossed it will continue!


  1. Who's taking the pics of you - your mom or your dad?

    Be safe on your road trip. If you have access to any of Grieg's music, it goes perfectly with the scenery in Norway.

  2. Mostly dad I think, sometimes mum. They both have disadVantages - mum can't see what she's taking a photo of and dad always takes a hundred years to click the button.

    Thanks! So far, we have been "rocking out " to my party tunes playlist. Just like a party at gwan's house minus the booze!

    1. Ha! I had to laugh about the disadVantages because it takes Stephane aGes to take a photo. By the time that he finally does, we're all frowning.

    2. Oh totally! And my dad spends that whole time telling you how fake your smile looks. Not helpful!!

  3. Oh you have answered my question. You are with mum and dad ( keep up Denise! )

    One of my favourite pictures is a Munch one, of a French girl with red hair. It is amazing how he got the colouring of her skin and hair with all different colours. Otherwise you just have to feel sorry for the poorctortured guy. Don't get the idea that I know anything about art. Husband dragged me to an exhibition in Rome. First I had ever seen.
    Love Denise

    1. There was one with bright red hair. My dad says he thinks he may have used the same model for a few photos. I hope you enjoyed the exhibition! It can get exhausting, but there are some beautiful things out there!


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