ArticleNorwegian Museum of Cultural History
While Vigeland Open Air Museum is a small part of a big park blended into a residential district, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History IS essentially such a district. There are streets and squares, dwelling houses, stores and public gardens there - as well as a functioning pharmacy and a dental clinic. There is also a Sunday church offering weekly sermons and a Friday summer school for children. Visitors are welcome to entertain themselves by riding a horse, savoring a traditional Norwegian flatbread "Lefse" or watching a show in the "Green Theatre". All that combined would easily qualify that museum to be called a full-fledged village but for the fact that it would be a Potemkin village because nobody has ever lived there. So, the place is always closed for the night. The easiest way to better understand this social and cultural phenomenon would be to enter several houses and watch their temporary residents for a while. Most of them are young people in their early 20s but, judging by the way they are dressed, one could think they were born about 200 years ago!
Their activities only corroborate that conclusion because they are doing what their great grandmothers would be doing day in and day out - namely, grinding coffee beans, baking "lefse" (and selling it on the spot for a purely symbolic fee), singing imaginary babies to sleep (and doing it so well that one can't help applauding), weaving, or ironing using a hand-made clothes iron serving as both a practical tool and a symbol of a romantic tradition. Young men in love would make such an iron as a gift for their prospective bride. If the gift was accepted, a wedding would follow soon. If not...Well, the poor chap would have to make an exact copy of the iron for another candidate and hope that she will be more impressed with his craftsmanship...