The Polar Ship Fram Museum: Oslo's Hidden Gem
Updated: May 4
The mighty Fram - an arctic vessel who sailed three times to uncharted, unmapped waters of the icy poles, rests snugly now in a museum of her own in Oslo, called the Frammuseet, or Fram Museum. This incredible ship beat out a century of seafarer's before it, in the attempts to find the Northwest Passage. Armed with seamen, scientists and sled dogs, the Fram's journey is beautifully retold at the Fram Museum in Oslo.
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The Fram Museum Story
Forget the rest of your itinerary in Oslo - all of it. If you have time for just one museum, this is the one. The story of the Fram, unbeknownst to me, is incredibly fascinating. The ship was built after dozens of failed attempts from other ships lost in the ice of the arctics, certain to be doomed like the rest. But with wisdom of past failures, the Fram prevailed.
During the late 1890s, near the turn of the century, Norwegian meteorologists theorized the concept of currents and shifting ice movements in the Arctic regions. The impacts we know of today as global warming were being seen over 100 years ago as these scientists realized the failure of many previous voyages was that the ships were too large and getting stuck in the ice.
If only they could cut through the ice, or even circumvent it, with a stronger yet humble ship, they could use the currents to simply drift past the ice blockers that marked the graves of many men who had attempted before them. The Fram was constructed and took her first voyage in this manner, drifting through the Arctic.
The story of the Fram had countless tales of strife and struggle in the harsh wintery north, and again in the south as they traveled (without telling the crew!) to the south pole. The Fram is unique in its history as it holds the record of sailing both furthest north and furthest south of any other expedition ship in the world.
They also brought back incredible scientific data from each journey, and paved the way for map charting and eventually tourist-occupied Norwegian cruise ships to go and have a romp around the Arctic Circle.
For more in depth detail on the Fram Expeditions, go here: https://frammuseum.no/polar-history/expeditions/
The Fram Museum Exhibits
The museum itself was breathtaking. Small in its own right, it kept us occupied for over 2 hours! It holds a very well done film about the expedition ships leading up to the Fram, a few areas for kids, and some fascinating interactive exhibits.
You can actually board the ship and tour every room. Step foot into the shoes of the explorers as you try your hand at pulling the weight of a fully packed supply sled, pop into an igloo and understand how they lived on the ice, or look at their sleeping quarters and dining hall onboard the ship for a glimpse of their day to day.
They even have a cheesy (but fun!) walk through exhibit to delight the teenagers - a moving room filled with creepy mummified bodies in the ice!
You wouldn't believe it, but the museum itself was actually constructed around the ship. They sailed the ship right up to the edge of the water and plopped a triangular roof around it to accommodate the mast. What a marvelous construction!
How to Get to the Fram Museum and Other Logistics
Inside the museum you will find the cutest little cafe, decorated as if you were in an Arctic outpost, for hot dogs, beer, wine or snacks. Across the entrance you can also find the Maritime museum and cafe, where they have a larger array of coffees, pastries, sandwiches, and things to warm you up on a cold and windy day. You don't need to pay admission to the Maritime museum to access the cafe.
Parking is easy and plentiful in the neighboring paid lot, but beware the apple trees dumping apple bombs on your car (or on your head!). We also spotted a "museum ferry" and several buses leading up to the building. The museums were all built into the same peninsula across from Oslo's city center area, providing a really fun day trip if you were to take the ferry, I imagine. We also wanted to visit the open air museum, but simply didn't have the time.
For advanced tickets, purchase them here, or for more information on visiting, go to: https://frammuseum.no/
Overall, being a ship lover and an even bigger lover of stories of adventure, exploration and charting new courses - this museum was a major win for my family. I highly recommend a visit to the Polar Ship Fram museum next time you are in Oslo.