Sunday, August 5, 2007

Vigeland Sculpture Garden


We had a couple of hours with nothing planned this morning, as the first place we were scheduled to see didn't open until noon. We decided to spend it near our hotel at some of the stores. It turns out that almost nothing was open on Sunday morning in central Oslo. I suspect that it had something to do with the fact that today is the final day of the biggest football (soccer) match in the world, being held here in Oslo (Norway Cup). We've been seeing lots of organized groups of teenagers in the streets in the past few days, all looking like they are having the fun of a lifetime.

So we changed our itinerary, and took the trolley to the Vigeland Sculpture Park, originally scheduled for tomorrow. Gustav Vigeland's 200 sculptures line the main avenue of the beautiful park named in his honor. Gardens and fountains also abound, but it is his lifesize, life-like characters that gather photographers. I especially liked the four granite columns combining dragons and humans, but was awed by the 16 pieces surrounding the largest column (the Monolith). It's a linear museum walk you won't forget.

We left the park, and traveled across town by trolley to our 12 o'clock destination - The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. Disaapointment met us when we arrived and found that they were closed until October, presenting only a small gallery of art, and an apologetic receptionist. Next, a walkup the hill to another large park where the University of Oslo Natural History Museum is located.

Now I can spend days in most natural history museums. But lately, I've been hampered by a desire to focus almost exclusively on the search for additional specimens of a rare old fish that I own (Dipnoi - 350 million years old, and a cousin of the creature which carried fish to mammals). Like a crazed hunter, I wandered quickly through really interesting rooms full of great displays of all kinds of rocks and fossils and creatures. Finally, I got to announce to Pat (who knows when I get this fanatic) that the specimen housed here was yet another poor second to my great prize. The search for a clearer and more interesting-looking fossil continues withmany more museums to search out. I do hope that I can learn to like looking at other things in these wonderful collections again.

The walk across the park to the Edward Munch Museum led us to an well-designed stream with waterfalls and plants. Larger than ours, but not any prettier.

I had heard about the burglary which took place recently when a young man stole Edward Munch's most famous painting (The Scream) in broad daylight from the Museum. It has been recovered, but is still being repaired. The Museum is displaying an earlier drawing of the scene. It appears that its directors have decided to go overboard to send the message that they won't let it happen again. There are plenty of airports with less security than is now in place here. Interestingly, Pat found that her swiss army knife went through just fine. They must not care if you go in and destroy the paintings, just don't take any of them.

Before today, I probably could not have named the artist who painted "The Scream", but I certainly knew of it. I could not have identified any of his other works. The Munch (pronounced Monk) Museum holds 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings,and 18,000 prints depicting the works of a tormented life of a damaged, lonely artist supported by others who hoped he'd someday make good. Amazingly, he did, becoming quite wealthy in his latr years from the sale of paintings illustrating himself, his nude models, and five conditions: fear, anger, jealousy, attraction, and grief. After seeing the displayed collection, I think I could identify a painting of his, but I couldn't describe more than a few. There's just too many of the same themes, and his expressionistic style (excuse me) screams out for a little more restraint. I felt like I was in a photographer's studio where he was displaying every photo he ever took. But I guess that's the thing with painters, every one attempt matters.

We came back to the hotel, rested, and went to dinner down by the docks. What could have been a really great dinner was marred by a really poor plate of scampi for Pat. I had a great arctic trout, stuffed with spinach and scallops, asparagus, cheese and potato side dish, house salad, and a nice white wine from France.

Tomorrow, we round out the Oslo stay with a tour of the Parliament in the morning, the Historical Museum in the early afternoon, and perhaps the Doga Norwegian Center for Architecture and Design.

Here is a link to all of the photos we took today: Vigeland Sculpture Park

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