Ibsen Museum, Oslo, Norway
Henrik Ibsen Gate 26
Open: 15/9 to 14/5 Mon to Wed & Fri to Sun 11-16. Thurs 11 – 18.
15/5 to 14/9 Mon to Sun 11 – 18.
Tel 40 02 36 30
Price 100nk ( approx. £10) Reductions for children, seniors and students.
Review: Ian Spiby, July 2016
A useful insight into the life of the founder of modern drama
For any serious theatregoer visiting Oslo, a visit to the Ibsen Museum is an essential part of the itinerary. It is situated round the corner from the National Theatre in the aptly-named Henrik Ibsen’s Gate and provides some interesting information about the great playwright’s life and works.
He actually loathed Norway and only returned late in life when he was rich and famous, after living in self-imposed exile for many years, a fact largely glossed over by the museum. Nevertheless, the whole of his career is covered in terms of his written works.
The museum is divided roughly into two parts: an exhibition space and then the apartment in which Ibsen and his wife Susannah spent the last 11 years of his life. After Susannah’s death some years after her husband, the apartment’s contents were either sold or donated elsewhere but quite recently they have been reassembled and it is now restored to how it looked in 1895. It is only accessible for the public by means of guided tours that occur regularly throughout the day.
Our guide was an extremely engaging young woman speaking immaculate English and with a wealth of information about Ibsen. Together with her commentary, the spacious apartment with its rich furnishings, provided us with an insight into how the playwright lived during the final years of his life.
The other part of the museum consists of two exhibition spaces, one permanent and one changing. The temporary exhibition at the moment is devoted to Ibsen’s influence on John Lennon, even down to the Beatle’s adoption of round wire-rimmed glasses. The permanent exhibition covers the whole of Ibsen’s career from his earliest works to his final plays and also includes a number of artifacts: the playwright’s shaving equipment, frock coat and top hat for example.
One further fascinating fact emerged from my visit. Because of the changes and development of Norwegian over the past 200 years, they see no problem with updating the language of Ibsen’s plays, and indeed, a new modernised complete edition of his works has just been published. As I left the museum and walked through the Royal Park opposite, I reflected wryly on the opprobrium that descends on any person brave enough to attempt the same exercise with the language of Shakespeare.