This post will be the last in a trilogy from when we took my father in-law and his wife around in Norway while they where visiting from the US to celebrate my wife’s birthday. Scroll down to see the two other ones!
On our last day in Lillhammer we went to Maihagen museum to see an exhibit on Norway’s development from the ice age on. The exhibition is called “We won the land” in English. I like the Norwegian exhibition label directly translated better; “Slowly the land became our own”.

The exhibition is a journey through 10,000 years of Norwegian history. It is not a history of kings and great battles, but of the everyday life of the Norwegian people. We meet them in the dioramas – the woman of the Stone Age, the Viking age boat-builder, the home struck down by the Black Death, the woman who has to emigrate to America and a despairing man on the dole in the interwar years. Let me show you an example from a painting:

We can contemplate the people, their homes and their workplaces. In our imagination we are with them and learn their stories. Let me give you some examples:

To the left you see a Norwegian horse called ‘Fjording’ with a plough struggling to cultivate new land.
To the right you see a logger. Forestry work was hard and labour-intensive. Many of them were tenant farmers. They rented farms and worked off part of the rent in the forest. Logs where hauled by horses to rivers and watercourses and floated downriver to the sawmills.

I mentioned emigration to the US earlier so let me give you an example:

Many went to America in the 1800 in search of a better life. The harvest was poor and also a lack of fish in the North Sea which led to great famine. By the First World War, 775.000 Norwegians out of a population of just over 2 mil had immigrated to the USA, settling for the most part in the Midwest states. Only Ireland sent a higher percentage of it’s population to America.

The encounter with these contrasts ends with the modern person of the Norwegian welfare state – the package tourist and the old-age retiree, the problems of affluence and the environment. Let me end with a couple of more examples:


Motorized society – Open wide!

To the left you see one ready for a holiday with the “Beetle”. In post-war Norway former luxuries become part of everyday life. After the automobile rationing was lifted in 1961 the car quickly became common property, changing living habits both before and after work.
To the right: the school dentist, every child’s nightmare, was part of many national health care services build up after the Second World War. Regular examinations and better treatment, together with public campaigns, to improve nutrition and dental hygiene, led to a strong improvement in dental health.

Next stage was the oil age from the beginning of 1970s which has given the Norwegian a fortune for generations. That’s another and a new story though – you can’t expect to get every detail from a 10 000 year history in one post!

31 Comments

  1. hi,
    i’m norwegian too, although I live in Italy with my parents, my mum is norwegian and my father is italian.
    tomorrow i’m coming in berget to my grandpha’s funeral.
    i’ve seen your comment in a weblog and i’ve readt that you’re from Oslo.
    nothing, i just wanted to” hilse” someone who comes from norway.
    i’m looking forward to tomorrow, you know.
    mange hilsene

  2. i meant BERGEN

  3. Wow! That was a fun read, I so enjoy reading about your adventures!

  4. marvelous! and i learned something about my own history too! i did not realize what a huge percentage of the norwegain popluation came to the states. a great many of them eventually settled in the upper midwest because that was a place quite open for settlement when they were arriving,also i think the climate and geography would have been a familiar thing for them.

    where i am from was settled more by the english and germans and some swedes a hundred years earlier.

    thanks for another really excelent post.

  5. Very interesting! I had no idea such a large chunk of the Norwegian population emigrated to the States in the 1800’s. Now, with your American wife, you are reversing the trend? :-)

  6. @Holly: Good to see new readers and nice to hear your coming from Norway too. Have a wonderful trip to Bergen!

    @Chelle: Glad you had fun reading – the best compliments I can get.

    @Lime: Always good to see you learning something from my post! I think you are very right: Midwest was almost like home you know so they could use their agriculture experience and other things.

    @Nancy: Always nice to see you around.
    I don’t think I can reversing the trend, but I am very thankful for what I’ve got:-)

  7. Nice post as usual Renny :-) Our countries has a lot in comoon, but it still differ in certain matters and it’s interesting read.

    We have a lot of Fjordingar over here too, since it’s a very good strong horse breed :-)

  8. i like the label. what really builds a country or a place is not war, but how the people live their everyday lives :)

  9. Your FIL has had a wonderful history lesson up close and personal, Renny, and now we have the post version while it is still fresh on your mind. That’s so very wonderful for us. I love the way you tell us about your Norwegian life/history, past and present. Thank you!

  10. I love to see historical works and paintings and the first one is really awesome.

    its great to commemorate our old folks who took care of our land,right?

    Your in laws must be so proud of you,Renny :)

  11. Hi, I’m really impressed the way you tell the 10.000 year history of our land in such a short and elegant way. Even illustrated with pictures. Great.

    And how fast things have changed the past 120 years, from over 1 out of 3 emigrating to USA (only beaten by the Irish, as you said, but also by the scotsmen)to the present situation with net-imigration, and we still need thousands of qualified people

    Hope you had a profitable trip abroad

    btw. Wireless up and running (innebygde antenner), ekstern disk tilkoplet, full kontakt med interne systemer på jobb, scanner og fotoskriver. Hurra. Sees tirsdag?

  12. Believe it or not, I’m a bit of a history buff and I am familiar with the exodus of Norsemen to our Midwest. I didn’t know why they left Norway in such vast numbers, though, so thank you for that, Renny.

    We still see lots of very pale, blue-eyed platinum blondes around here, and some red-heads, too, signs of your Viking history.

    All go into our American melting pot, making us what we are today.

    Great post, Renny, as usual. :-)

  13. this is very informative of the history of the norwegian people. I love visiting the museums and learning more about the place. I hope that i will be able to visit the nordic regions one day. have a great day.

  14. I wish I had a history teacher like you when I was in school !

  15. Mother of Invention

    Your country’s development is similar to ours but doesn’t go that far back. We are the story of immigrants from Great Britain. The Pioneer Farmers and Loggers.

  16. Sounds like a really interesting holiday!

  17. I like museums like this. Our Royal Ontario Museum has diaramas of prehistoric man and modern man of our area. I really like the animal developement diaramas.
    Being able to see an example of the documentation helps me put it all together in my head.

  18. Congratulations, Renny, this was a very interesting trilogy ! I learned a lot. Blogs are more interesting to read then books because it’s more personal. My father too had a VW end 50th and my second car in 1964 too ! They were much nicer than the once they built today.
    In Madison/Wisc. where I have been a lot of times, all settlers were of scandinavian or german origin. My uncle too.

  19. Ever-informative Renny!
    I think I must start making a list of places I want to see next time I come to Norway :)

  20. @MrsLifecruiser: I do agree; we are two of a kind but also we have our specialties:-)
    Fjordinger are the best you know – working horse that is!

    @Tin-tin: Well, it has been a bit of a struggle, but mostly peaceful.

    @Ghee: yes, we have a lot to thank our forefather’s (and mothers!) for!
    I think they where very happy, yes:-)

    @TorAa: Thanks for your compliments and supplements!
    Welcome to the wireless world too:-)

    @DianeJ: Be proud of your roots then:-)
    Thats what I am fascinated by the melting put and development too.

    @Sidney: Well, at least the pupils of today have the net too:-)

    @MotherOfInvention: Thanks for richening our commend history!

    @Teena: It was – we had all a great time:-)

    @Lynn: Would have loved to go there one day and get helped out in the puzzle too:-)

    @Gattine: Thanks for the compliments and you know: I learn a lot too – blogging is a givers gain you know!

    @ttfootball: Let me see through the list before you come over then LoL

  21. Very interesting history lesson, Renny! I enjoyed reading this very much. :-)

  22. Charles sent me over. Good to learn about Norway’s history, best wishes, The Artist

  23. hallo Renny! I learned a lot about history of Norway from my Norwegian father. The pictures are quite nice and gives me the visualisations i need.

  24. Hi Renny! Thanks for these posts. I love learning more about Norway and what great info and photos you provide. Thank you again!

  25. @Lisa: Thanks for the visit and glad you enjoyed!

    @TheArtist: Thanks for visiting again and glad to give you something of interest!

    @Chase: Glad my post could filled you in!

    @Balou: Glad you learned something new about Norway and welcome back!

  26. Hi Renny!

    The Queerchef pimped me here!

    It’s so nice to be back.

  27. happy weekend,Renny!

  28. OldOldLady Of The Hills

    Very Very interesting Renny…(The Queer Chef…our pal Charles….sent me today—Well, The3 Comment Whore…lol).
    What a fascinating Museum that must be….You certaibly covered a lot of ground with your In-Laws—I bet they enjoyed it veryu very much, too!
    Have a lovely weekend Renny.

  29. One word: enchanting.

    Thanks for sharing. You can be a Hostiry professor or something. :) I’ve really enjoyed this.

  30. Very cool! I think the bettle was just a way of life back then…

    Even my dad drove from Ohio to California is a bright new red one.. He had it over 10 years too!!!

    Crazy how things can be so the same…

  31. Much the same effective museum design as in Gatineau Quebec, with the national museum there.

    At least one feels justified to have tired legs at the end of tour, having walked through hundreds of years and all. ;)

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