Monday, November 26, 2018

Oslo: The Fram Museum

It was a totally inappropriate day to visit this brilliant museum.

This museum celebrates polar exploration and contains two legendary ships, the Fram (above) and the Gjoa (below):

As well as these two ships, this museum is a treasure trove of all things related to high latitude exploration, of both the Arctic and Antarctic.

To get the full experience it should really be chilled like a freezer, requiring multiple layers of wool to enter. Alas on the baking day I was there it felt more equatorial than polar, the two triangular buildings housing the two ships trapping heat within:

But it was totally worth it as it was probably the best museum of high latitude exploration anywhere in the world, filled with objects and stories of interest.

The two main boats, for those that want a refresher, were indeed historic:

Fram: this was built for Fridtjof Nansen with sufficient strength to allow it to be frozen into the polar ice cap where it then was allowed to drift over the Arctic in 1893. Later it was taken by Amundsen to the south pole, allowing it to claim to have sailed further north and south than any other wooden ship.

Gjoa: this was the first vessel to transmit the Northwest Passage in the Roald Amundsen expedition of 1903- 1904.

There was an impressive surround sound + video installation around the Fram (below and top) that gave the impression it (and hence the visitor too) was exploring stormy seas dotted with icebergs.... somewhat spoiled by the temperature of course:

There was also a useful 12 minute film that gave an introduction to polar exploration.

As someone heading up north to Svalbard the museum was packed with useful information, such as the Norge airship expedition, the mooring pole of which we'd later see at Ny Alesund. Many stories had a similar theme which was: the Brits had a go, made a complete mess of things, then the Norwegians did it right (e.g. NW passage, race to south pole etc).

For me it was the top museum in Oslo and I really can't recommend it highly enough for anyone with an interest in high latitude exploration.

Even so, there came a point where my legs became tired and a break from yet-another-expedition's-story fatigue hit the point where lunch seemed a good idea, so I left and headed for the Norwegian National Maritime Museum which has a good canteen (but to be honest, not a lot else).

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