a ship and a raft

by Hannah Theele

I have been in Oslo for almost one month now and I have seen and done so many things I can hardly remember it all when I call my parents to tell them what I’ve been up to. So far, the most life-changing moment I’ve had on this trip is discovering these giant milk chocolate bars made with bits of Oreo (I’m not efreia_chocolate.jpgexaggerating when I say life-changing). However, I’ve experienced a ton of other amazing things in this beautiful Norwegian city; one of those things being an impromptu trip to the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskiphuset) this past weekend with my friend August.

On Saturday, August and I woke up late missing the breakfast served at the dorms where we live, so we decided to venture out into the city for some food. We ended up getting some hotdogs from a convenience store because they’re quick and easy (and because I love hotdogs almost as much as the Oreo chocolate I mentioned earlier). While we were out, August and I figured why not do some exploring and go to the Viking Ship Museum. Visiting this museum was something we had planned on doing for the past few weeks but kept postponing it because other events/things kept getting in the way.

So we hopped on a bus that I assumed would take us directly to the museum, but (because I am the absolute worst at navigating) we had to get off and get on a bus going in the other/correct direction. Oops. The correct bus actually did drop us off right at the entrance of the Viking Ship Museum so we hopped off and went in to purchase our tickets. We came to find out that tickets were free for students so that was a pleasant surprise.


The museum was super crowded because it was a Saturday, but the museum building was beautiful. The ceilings were tall because there are three extremely large viking ships within the museum which made me wonder if the building was built around the ships or if they were somehow brought in after construction. But anyhow, the viking ships were incredible. These ships were HUGE and it was nice to see the ships from both above and below. The museum had balconies in each room that housed a viking ship so that visitors could walk up and have a better view of the interior of the ships. Another thing I found interesting was the intricate wood carving on one of the larger ships and some of the other artifacts in the museum. I mentioned how strange I thought it was that the vikings would include this amount of intricate detail on their ships and how time consuming it would be to carve all of those details into the wood to my friend August. August replied with “what better did they have to do back then?” which I guess makes sense, but I still think it’s kind of strange.


Another thing I noticed during this visit was that I was kind of critical of this particular museum in that visitor interaction and engagement was very limited (probably because we are currently working with the National Gallery Museum in regards to visitor interactions so it’s fresh on my mind). I was curious about certain artifacts that were displayed, but the way that the museum presented its information was extremely uninteresting. I had no desire to, first of all, find the information I was looking for and secondly, read through the mundane wording of the text labels for each artifact. Although it wasn’t the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to, it was really cool to see actual viking ships because that’s not something you see everyday, especially in America.

Once August and I left the museum to stand at the bus stop to get back to our dorms, we saw a street sign pointing to the Kon-Tiki Musuem, the Holocaust Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Fram Museum. We decided to take a walk and see what these other museums had to offer. August and I walked through some cute little neighborhoods on the way to find these museums and found a small, wooded trail on the side of the road that led to the waterfront, so that was a pleasant stop along the way. Once we got to the cluster of museums we decided to go to the Kon-Tiki Museum first, having no clue of what was inside.

We entered the Kon-Tiki museum, paid for our tickets and in the first exhibit room we discovered that the Kon-Tiki was a man-made balsa raft that traveled 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from Peru to Polynesia. From Polynesia it was towed to Tahiti and then transported by boat to Norway. I was super confused, yet intrigued, as to why this raft was in Norway and why there was a museum dedicated to it.

It turns out that the Kon-Tiki Raft was a historical experiment led by Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian scientist, trying to prove that people from early South American civilizations could have reached Polynesia with seafaring vessels. The whole story of the Kon-Tiki was mapped throughout the museum in a way that made visitors want to learn more and kept them really engaged with the exhibit. I won’t tell the whole story here, but I encourage anyone who’s interested to google the full story because it’s fascinating. There was a documentary made about the Kon-Tiki that won Norway’s first ever Academy Award, so that’s also pretty neat (I plan to try to watch it in my free time this summer). Overall, this museum made our whole weekend. August and I loved it and had so much fun.

After our visit to the Kon-Tiki, August and I headed over to the Fram museum which was also really cool, but I think we were so impressed with the Kon-Tiki (and also kind of grumpy-hungry at this point) that we just breezed through and decided to leave to find something to eat. We ended up eating lunch at a café just outside the museum, which consisted of two smoked salmon sandwiches that were extremely tasty. Afterwards we got on a bus that we thought would take us back to the city center, but we were wrong (once again due to my terrible navigational skills). Eventually we found our way back to our dorms and couldn’t wait to tell our other friends about the unknown Kon-Tiki museum and suggested that everyone go visit.

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