This is a five-part museum that you can visit with just one ticket. If you want to see the entire museum, expect to spend the better part of a day scampering from one point to another across the city. At the main museum, you'll be given a map with the locations of all the museums.
The main museum is called simply the Stavanger Museum, Muségata 16 (tel. 51-84-27-00), open from mid-June to August 15 daily from 11am to 4pm. From June 1 to June 14 and from August 16 to August 31, it is open Monday to Thursday 11am to 3pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm. During other months, the museum is open only on Sunday 11am to 4pm. The ticket for all five museums costs NOK60 ($12/£6) for adults, NOK30 ($6/£3) for students and seniors, NOK10 ($2/£1) for ages 4 to 6 (free for 3 and under).
At the main museum at Muségata, you can see a permanent collection of stuffed birds and animals from all over the world. The centuries-old history of Stavanger, dating from the Viking era, is also presented, along with dramatized sound recordings about Stavanger in the 1800s.
The second museum, Stavanger Sjøfartsmuseum (Maritime Museum), Nedre Strandgate 17-19, lies in a converted warehouse dating from 1770. Its permanent exhibition traces the maritime history of Stavanger for the past 2 centuries, from the days of the herring fleets to the booming oil industry of today.
The facade is a trim and shipshape, clapboard-sided, white-painted building directly on the harborfront. Inside there's a battered post-and-beam construction showing how artfully timbers were used by 19th-century craftsmen; a sense of the dust, dirt, and economic mayhem of the Industrial Revolution; and the pervasive scent of tar and turpentine. Expect a claustrophobic, dark-toned interior; hundreds of ship models and 19th-century maritime accessories; and a horrendous sense of how hard life was in 19th- and early-20th-century coastal Norway.
You can visit a general store from the turn of the 20th century, a reconstructed merchant's apartment from the early 1900s, a reconstructed shipowner's home, and a sailmaker's loft, along with a memorial room to the philosopher Henrik Steffens. There is also a children's shop on-site. This museum is closed in December.
Norsk Hermetikkmuseum (Norwegian Canning Museum), Øvre Strandgate 88A, lies in an old canning factory, with exhibitions tracing the fishing industry, Stavanger's main industry before being replaced by the oil industry, from the 1890s to the 1960s. Some of the machinery is still working, and on the first Sunday of every month, the smoking ovens are stoked up. The public can taste newly smoked brisling straight from the ovens. This is the oddest and quirkiest of Stavanger's museums, and it arouses the most emotion within the Norwegians who visit it. It's also the least polished and the earthiest of the town's museums, and the one that most richly and evocatively portrays the harsh and boring circumstances of factory work during the Industrial Revolution. It's set within a low-slung clapboard building within a neighborhood of increasingly gentrified antique cottages. Inside, about 50 antique machines are displayed, with sepia-toned photographs of how they, along with scores of weary workers, fitted sardines, herring, and brislings into the galvanized steel tins that were later shipped to homes throughout Europe. Expect an enduring sense of the soot, grime, grease, and fish guts that once permeated this place with odors that stretched for several blocks in all directions. Overall, this museum is one of the most effective and eloquent tributes in Stavanger to the workaday heroism of 19th- and early-20th-century Norway.
The fourth museum, Ledaal, Eiganesveien 45, was built by Gabriel Schanche Kielland, a shipowner and merchant, in the years 1799 to 1803. The mansion is a fine example of the neoclassical style as interpreted in western Norway, with interior furnishings that are mainly rococo, Empire, and Biedermeier. This is the official -- but rarely used -- residence of the Norwegian royal family during their visits to Stavanger and Rogaland counties, of which Stavanger is the capital. It's painted a shade of Pompeian red and set adjacent to one of Stavanger's most evocative cemeteries. It's separated from a road leading into Stavanger, about a 15-minute walk uphill from the harbor, by a wall of very large boulders. The look is country-rustic and baronial, and is completely permeated with a sense of genteel 18th-century aristocracy and all-wood construction; it's closed in December and January.
The fifth museum is Breidablikk, Eiganesveien 40A. Set across the road from Ledaal, it was built by another merchant and shipowner, Lars Berensten, in 1881 and 1882. Both the exterior and interior of the house are preserved in their original condition. It's a teeny-weeny bit kitschy, thanks to an exaggerated alpine-gemütlich style, a coat of almost-too-bright ocher paint (with dark brown trim), and yard upon yard of elaborate gingerbread running along the eaves and verandas. It's Victoriana/Carpenter gone wild and an amusing sightseeing diversion; it's closed December and January.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010
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