About Art and Design in Oslo
2012 was the year Edward Munch´s famous painting The Scream was sold for 120 million dollars. For much less, both the National Gallery and the Munch Museum offers good collections and two of three versions of The Scream now in Norway. If you taket he 34 bus from downtown up to the hills of Ekeberg (about ten minutes ride), you can enjoy the view from where a feeling of angst made him paint one of the world´s most iconic pictures.
Only a few minutes by boat or bus, lays Bygdøy, home of various historic museums, like the Viking museum, Fram and Kon-Tiki, from the Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. The folk museum is also worth a visit, specially in the summer, since most of the museum is outdoors.
Most of the city burned down in a fire in the 1600s, but there are still a few old buildings left in Kvadraturen, downtown Oslo.
Norwegians are timid, but friendly, and though most Norwegians are unlikely to approach strangers for whatever reason, they will be happy if you approach them. Norwegians stand in line where it´s needed, like outside museeums or galleries, but not all bus lines are as organized as the Scandinavian reputation will imply.
According to the Norse sagas, Oslo was founded around 1049 by King Harald Hardråde, but little remains from that area. Oslo was destroyed several times by fire, and after another disastrous fire in 1624, King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway ordered it rebuilt at a new site across the bay, near Akershus Castle. The Castle is still there and worth a visit, so is the remains of the old city in Kvadraturen.
Politics & Economy
Oslo is the seat of Norway's national government. Most government offices, including that of the Prime Minister, are gathered at Regjeringskvartalet, a cluster of buildings close to the national Parliament—the Storting. The bombing of July 2011 destroyed most of the government buildings, but they are being rebuilt and the prime ministers office is intact. Unlike most of Europe, the economy is booming and Oslo is one of the fastest growing capitals of Europe.
Edward Munch: Painter of The Scream, one of the world´s most famous paintings.
Øya festivalen: Oslo´s biggest and best music festival boasts big international names and smaller up and coming artists. First couple of weeks of August.
The Mela festival shows the international side of Oslo, a free multicultural music celebration that usually attracts a good crowd and some great musicians. Usually mid/end-August.
Oslo vegetarian festival is a one day festival of veggies, usually in May.
The Astrup Fearnley Museet is a privately owned museum, which presents temporary exhibitions of international art, and is beautifully situated a short bus ride from the city center. The best museum for contemporary art in Oslo.
The national gallery: The National Gallery is Norway's largest gallery that showcases a collection of national and international art works, and exhibits Munch's main pieces, like "The Scream" and "Madonna".
Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskiphuset)
The Viking Ship Museum displays the large Viking ships of Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, as well as founds from the chief grave at Borre in the Vestfold district. The ships dated back to 8th and 9th century.
The Nobel Peace Centre is near the Oslo City Hall where the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony is held on the 10th of December every year. The centre exhibits documents about the past Peace Prize winners and Alfred Nobel's efforts to raise interest in resolving wars and conflicts to achieve world peace. The centre has a lovely café and shop.
If you like classical music, Cafe de Concert is recommended: Artist Aksel Kolstad opens his cafe almost every night for informal classic concerts, accompanied by champagne and hotdogs.
Holidays & Festivals
While its population is largely non-religious, Norway still has strong protestant roots and until recently, a state church. The whole country pretty much shuts down during easter, where there is an exodus from Oslo to the mountains and ski slopes. The 23rd to 27th of December is also pretty dead, while most of the country go on holiday in July.
Norway´s national day, May 17th, is worth experiencing in Oslo. The capital fills up with flags and traditional bunads, while all Oslo´s elementary school children and schoolbands salutes the royal family in a yearly celebration.
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