Folk Museums are a regular sight when travelling in Norway. Just about every region in Norway has at least one heritage building, if not a whole community. The buildings are certainly valued and are generally restored in their natural surroundings, however, as cities grow, sometimes buildings are transferred to a safer collective site such as the Folk Museum in Trondheim.
The further ‘out of the way’ you go the more common it is to see folk cottages standing by the side of roads, along fjords or in a thicket of trees, minding their own business. Many where built in the 1800s and exemplify the life of rural Norway. You aren’t likely see a folk museum in Finnmark, the most nothern region of Norway, as the Germans burnt down any building that wasn’t a church during WW2. However, the are a few heritage sites such as the Copper mine Museum in Kåfjord.
Sometimes, a whole farm of buildings have been preserved and restore such as Straumen Gård in Tromsø. This old farm consists of ten buildings built in the mid 1800s. Along the shore are houses for people and storage, where as the barns and stables are on the outskirts of the farm yard. The farm is almost completely intact which is quite unique for a a cultural heritage site, even the old shape of the farm and the placement of buildings has been preserved. It was a gathering point for the town and housed both the school and the post office.
Staumen Gård was still in use up until the 1960s but was then abandoned. Troms Folk Museum bought the property and restored it with the help of public funding and local volunteers. Amazingly, all the original tools and inventory of the old working farm from the 1800s had been preserved and are now on display at the museum.
The inside of heritage buildings have also been restored to original 1800s grandeur. Many living areas had stone fireplaces but with the ‘industrial revolution’ it was common to see a cast-iron oven too. The kitchen was obviously the heart of the home and was usually combined with the sitting room in smaller cottages. Oil lamps were a feature in larger cottages as well as curtains and floor rugs. Large wooden chests are in every room that functioned as draws and cupboards. There was no need to paint the inside walls as they didn’t need protection from the weather.
At the larger folk museums, communities hold cultural festivals where everyone can join in on Norwegian heritage. It is a chance to see what Norway in the 1800s would have been like with people dressed in traditional attire and carrying out normal farm activities such as ploughing, drying hay, sharpening axes and working modern cons like the new tractor! A day may also include traditional music and folk dancing, country food such as fresh lefse cooked on a hot plate, animal rides, and displays of traditional gardens, sewing and crafts.
Many counties all over Norway have heritage and folk museum sites. Most often you can visit anytime which is usually free (except ‘tourist attractions’ such as the Folk Museum in Trondheim) but to get access to inside the buildings you will need to check opening hours. To go inside usually a donation is expected for your ‘footprint’. Unfortunately, for a lot of sites you need your own transport to get there but you might find some tour operators that include heritage sites in their routes.
The pictures were taken at folk museum sites in Bardu, Målselv, Tromsø and Trondheim.
Mid-Troms Museum, Bardu & Målselv