The adventures of Kurt, Sarah, Ethan, Reid & Leah

Teknisk Museum

Norway’s Technical Museum

Last Saturday we visited the Norwegian Technical Museum. The museum is in north Oslo and just a short walk from the last tram stop on line 11/12. We packed a lunch, made our way on the tram and upon arrival sat outside under a beautiful sky to eat a bite before spending the entire afternoon exploring the museum.

Goofing off before the bubble show

We purchased tickets and found out that one of the more popular activities at the museum is to watch the bubble show. The show takes place a couple of times a day (I think) in the museum’s small auditorium. We arrived a bit early and watched the auditorium quickly fill up with families. The “bubble artist” had many different contraptions to aid in creating all manner of unique bubble formations and sculptures. One method I couldn’t recall seeing before was the use of some type of flammable gas to create a buoyant column of bubbles that would ignite. This brought a lot of applause when the demonstrator created a “dragon” and then blew it up Wile E. Coyote style with an “Acme” plunger detonator.

The museum had a number exhibits reflecting on the history of important technical achievements in energy production, communication, transportation, etc. Sarah and I really liked the overall design. The exhibits and the everyday ephemera offered an historical glimpse into Norwegian industrial design and packaging. Sarah particularly liked the display of galoshes (Norway’s National Footwear) that offered some insight into the design and molding process used to create them.

All but Leah took a run through a temporary exhibit entitled MindGap. Designed by stage designer Robert Wilson in conjunction with a local Performing Arts Academy, as well as neuroscientists across Norway, this exhibit was a performative space meant to showcase that which we do not know about the brain (we think). It was a three room space which was entered through an automatic door with a brain illustration on the outside. The first room was a hall of mirrors made of compiled mirror shards. Intersperced throughout were photographs of people, as if memories that were faded. The next room was very dark and moody and filled with several trees reaching floor to ceiling placed in very close proximity to one another. Throughout this room were various video screens with interviews with scientists as well as seemingly random installations of various objects. The last room was pitch dark with a small illuminated portal through which you looked and saw a preserved brain. Every few minutes this last room would go from pitch dark and silent to bright light with loud music and you would see that all kinds of discarded electronics were adhered to the ceiling. You would also then be able to see how to exit. While it was rather unexpected to find such an artistic piece within the context of a science museum, it was actually quite a refreshing in contrast to all of the ‘data’ we had been consuming in so many of the other exhibits.

Oil production via off-shore drilling is Norway’s chief economic driver and the museum offers a hands-on replica of a portion of a drilling rig platform, complete with an “escape column” made out of mesh netting. In the event of an emergency, rig workers use these columns to descend from the platform to boats on the water below the rig. The boys had fun sliding down a MUCH shorter version. On actual rigs these columns might stretch vertically hundreds of feet. Sarah and the boys took part in another oil rig demonstration. This one was a pitch dark maze in which they had to maneuver from one end to the other in 90 seconds, before all the lights came on. The boys were unsure of going alone so they all three went together. They understood the goal of moving through, but what they did not know was that it wasn’t just a maze that you walked through upright. There were doors, steps up and down, as well as small windows you had to crawl through. All the while listening to a very loud rush of steam. The whole interaction is designed to simulate the inside of an oil rig that has lost power and the need to feel your way out quickly. Sarah said she can not remember the last time the boys held her hands so tightly.

The kids clearly enjoyed the lower floor of the museum the best. Much of the lower exhibit is dedicated to hands-on exhibits that offer tactile lessons on all manner of physical sciences.

“I liked the downstairs which had all the interactive exhibits that kids could play with. I also liked the Mind Gap.” – Ethan

“I liked trying to float the rubber ball through the hoops.” – Reid

We ended up spending around 4 hours here that afternoon, and ended our visit with a late-afternoon snack at the museum cafe. The kids all picked out some ice cream, Sarah had a delicious waffle with cream and jam and I had a surprisingly good cup of a coffee. It was the first time we have purchased afternoon snacks while out as we continue to find it somewhat cost prohibitive to splurge on food. I believe the whole group came away feeling that we could easily spend another afternoon here exploring and playing.

Comments

  1. Ha! The first trio of photos is awesome, especially with Reidy’s little smile. That place looks like fun. I hope they washed their hands before they ate 🙂

Leave a Reply