Norsk Folkemuseum – Experience the Roots of Norway

As a foreign architecture student, visiting the Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo’s open air museum, was first in my to-do list. The open air exhibition, shows how people lived in Norway from past to present, through a collection of buildings from around the country. Learning about the history of Norwegian (and Scandinavian) roots and life characterized by its local architecture, is inspiring and offers a very interesting spatial experience.


A tenant farmer’s housings was located in the farmyard where could have the same form as local farms.

The community of rough-timbered traditional houses with turf roofs.









The Norsk Folkemuseum is Norway’s largest museum of cultural history. The 160 buildings displayed represent different regions in Norway, across different time periods.  The buildings are organised in two groups rural and urban: “The countryside” and “The old town”. The countryside contains farms and buildings from different parts of rural Norway; old barns, farmyards, an old-style amphitheater, raised storehouses (called loft) and rough-timbered traditional houses (stue) with turf roofs and sprouting wildflowers. During high season, entertainment with actors, farm animals and other activities is provided.



Square shape amphitheater


raised storehouses with turf roofs provide traditional linkage between a house and storage area.








The old town section is a reproduction of an early 20th century Norwegian town, a conglomerate of the old “Christiania” (mid-1800s Oslo) with a village shop, apothecary garden, social housing for the early 1900s, and an old petrol station from the 60s, among others. There is also a 19th-century Apartment Building  contains eight period interiors of Oslo and three exhibitions. More contemporary history is presented through exhibitions and documentation projects.


Laft house. The local timber construction, made with rough-massive logs arranged with an notched interlocking joint.


The Gol stave church. A restoration project that was moved from Gol in 1885. More information:


Visthus, a loft is a simple building designed for storing food.









In the rural section of the open air exhibition, the buildings have been rebuilt and organized according to region of origin. A tenant farmer’s housing was located in a farmyard-like landscape resembling the original context of the farm. The buildings are displayed as they were used in the past, and retain construction details, interior and exterior components, r retelling the story and context of the situation, such as the family living there during a certain period, collections of artefacts, photographs and material from archives. The local timber construction, local planning, folk art and traditional culture are shown not only through architecture but also through the contents of the exhibitions inside. One of the highlights is an ancient wooden church from 1200: the Gol stave church. The recently restored building that was shifted from Gol in 1885.


The local timber construction, massive log wall and turf roof detail


The cross section and plan of the gol stave church








To conclude, my perception after the visiting the Norsk Folkemuseum is that people’s lives are intimately linked with agriculture and nature. The exhibitions were very successful in both its very conservative and contemporary way of exhibiting. And last but not least, the most the significant thing is that the wisdom of the nation, the roots of Norway, are being preserved, while still inclusive and adapting to a more modern way of living.


All hand made drawings:
made during the visit