Museums / Memorials, Bergen
The main pedestrian street in Bergen connecting the fish market with one of its more prominent churches has a monument to the city heroes throughout the history of Norway – from the times of the Viking exploits to contemporary chores. The panel over the statues of the Vikings has a curious interpretation of the lands they visited. The totem-looking structure presiding over a bunch of American natives seems a bit out of place. Similar art is typical for the west coast of North America where Viking presence has not been proven yet. Unless it is an innocent mistake, this interpretation claims new horizons for the age of Viking discoveries. Hopefully, it is not another dubious science of the sorts Mr. Thor Heyerdahl practiced. Viking achievements were great enough on their own to need embellishment by modern-day (no) experts.
The fish theme is inevitable in Bergen’s museums as in its history. Bergen’s reason d’être, sort of speak, is fish. Foreign merchants and foreign consumption of fish turned the city into a major hub of commerce in Norway and stayed like that longer than similar entities in Europe (as part of the Hanseatic League). So, monuments to fish come as no surprise since most of the cute little Bryggen is due to and part of the fish story. As a result, once in Bergen, one has to pay homage to fish by not only eating its fresh version at the market but also see how and when it came up to be at the center of Bergen by following the intriguing exhibitions of the local museums.
Bergen Kunstmuseum at the close vicinity of the center has one the largest art collections in Scandinvavia. The collections include art works from the 15th century to contemporary. The main collections are:
- The City Art Collections with paintings of Norwegian and international artists from the 19th and 10th century
- Stenersens Collection with 250 paintings by contemporary artists including works by Picasso and Munch
- Rasmus Meyers Collection with Norwegian paintings from the 18th century to beginning of the 20th century.
The museum is open 11 - 17 every day, except for Mondays 15th Sept. - 14th May.
The Bryggen Museum is based on the findings of the archeological excavations of Bryggen between 1855 and 1972. The foundations of the oldest buildings in Bergen (from the 12th century) can be seen, as well some European ceramics, runic inscriptions and much more
These are a part of the Hanseatic Museum. Originally the only heated houses on the Wharf because of the firehazard. You are 60 degrees North, so you can imagine the cold, even with the gulf stream outside.
People with some knowledge of German might want to read the signs on the walls.
Many visitors come to Norway expecting to see a lot about Vikings everywhere. They then are surprised that Norwegians have not made a tourist industry out of this. You will of course find a few Viking souvenirs at the souvenir shop. But the Viking age is just one part of the Norwegian culture. The Vikings were those that travelled to other countries to conquere and explore. Those that didn't go were simply not called Vikings. The word Viking is also a verb and loosely means conqueror.
If you are interested in the historical part of the Vikings, you will find a Viking exhibition at The Cultural History Collections (museum)
For more info on Vikings, use the link below.
The Hanseatic Museum is one of the oldest and best preserved wooden buildings in Bergen, furnished in the style of the 1700. The museum show how was the life of the Hanseatic merchants in the town. Near the museum there is the Hanseatic Assembly Rooms where the Hanseatic merchants gathered for warm meals, held cour meetings and taught the apprentices.
The Bergen Art Museum is presents in three separate buildings next to the Lille Lungegarsvann Lake. In the Lysverket you can see Norwegian and international art from the 15th century untill the present day, including Russian icons, Dutch baroque paintings and much more; in the Rasmus Mayer Collection there is a collection of Norwegian masterpieces from the 18th century to 1915 with paintigs og Munch, Dahl, Tidemand and Gude. In Steberseb there are temporary exhibitions.
This houses one of the original Haneatic assembly halls. I'm personally fascinated by the indelible mark the Hanse left on European history, which not only included Bergen, but many different port cities in European countries. The German Hanse were a very powerful trade union and exerted their power mainly through capitalism as opposed to war.
A dark side of Bergen's history is the burning of witches. This stone is in memory of the public murders of 350 victims in the years from 1500-1750.
If I am not mistaken, this is the only instance in the world were a government has made an official apology for the witch-hunt.
West Norway Museum of Decorative Art
Permanent exhibitions: "People and Posessions", "The Treasury of Bergen" with the exquisit violin of the virtuoso Ole Bull, from 1562, is one of the world's oldest and most beautiful violins, The China Collection,changing exhibitions.
The fishery museum is small, and unless you are particulary interested in nets and old fishing equipment, not very interesting.
It has some monters with different equipment, maps and pictures. Also some fishmodels depicting the different species.
These three buildings cover a lot of paintings, each of the buildings have a style of their own. Two of them are quite renouwn: Stenersensamlingen (modern art like Picasso), and Rasmus Meyers Samlinger (more romantic period). The third building doesn't have exibitions from a certain period. The building is called Lysverket because the countys electricitydepartement used to be there.
This monument cannot be missed. Not that it's so fabulous, but when you are in Bergen you can not possible miss it.
I gues it's most interesting for those interested in History. It shows how seafarers dressed in old times: From the Viking age to somewhat present.
The tour of this museum was part of a tour we purchased at the Bryggen Museum. The tour was in English and led us through the Bryggen area, into some buildings, and discussed life during the Hanseatic period. We ended up with a tour of the Hanseatic Museum. This was a good way to see this museum. Many other people were just wandering through with no real clue of what they were seeing. The Museum shows life during the Hanseatic period.