Exploring the Norsk Folkemuseum
The Norwegian Folk Museum is one of the best ways to learn about the history of Norway and its culture. Even if museums aren't normally your thing because you find them stuffy or boring, the open air design of the museum leaves lots of room for exploration and fresh air.
Everyone and everything recommended checking out the Folk Museum - along with a few other museums - so I dedicated a whole day to spending time in them. The weather was, although a little cloudy, great and made walking around the outdoor exhibits a lot more enjoyable than if I'd tried to do it in the rain or snow.
Interestingly enough, the Norwegian Folk Museum was the first ever open-air museum in the world, and dates back to 1881.
There are a couple indoor exhibits at the entrance where you can take a loot at Norwegian clothing, toys and other cultural items over the course of history. Once you enter the main part of the museum, you can take a look at different traditional Norwegian dwellings and homes throughout history and see what the different buildings may have been used for. Many of them are originals that were relocated to the museum, and they provide and interesting peek into Norwegian history and culture.
You can even visit the working traditional farm on the premises that has a lot of adorable goats and animals to spend plenty of time staring at!
The main attraction of the Folk Museum is the 13th century Gol Stave Church.
Stave Churches are medieval churches crafted entirely out of wood. They were almost exclusively in the Northwest of Europe, and only a few remain today (which makes sense since wood isn't typically known for its longevity as a building material).
The name 'Stave Church' comes from the modern Norwegian term for the post-and-lintel construction of the churches. The load bearing posts are called 'stav.'
Even though they are Christian churches, it's immediately apparent that Stave Churches have a very traditional Scandinavian feel. Upon close examination, many of them have carvings or engravings of traditional pagan characters or stories. In that way, Stave Churches are an amazingly unique combination of pagan and Christian beliefs co-existing, and a very telling reflection of Scandinavian history and culture.
If you're looking for a good introduction to Norwegian history, culture and ingenuity, then the Norwegian Folk Museum is a great place to start! I learned a lot and had my interest sparked by a lot of the things I saw there.
Plus, it's a cool place to visit from a historical perspective - if you're into that kind of thing like I am! It's big enough that you can spend quite a few hours there, but small enough that you don't need to plan the whole day. If you're ever in the Oslo area, check it out along with the Viking Ship Museum (more on that later) that's practically right next door!