The Wrong Train

The Viegland Sculpture garden is the #1 site in Oslo according to some travel websites. I wanted to see it mostly because our dear friend told us it was her daddy’s favorite work. The son of a sharecropper, he became a successful chemist and lived many years in Europe. From what I have heard and observed over the years, he and his wife raised their big happy family to be lifelong learners and to make travel an organic part of their lives. I did not know him, but I’m pretty sure he would have been appalled by the difficulty I had finding the most popular park in Oslo. First I got two parks confused, but Kent asked some workers who kindly explained we were on the complete opposite side of town. Then my second attempt involved mistaking one word that starts with Frogner with an entirely different word that starts with Frogner. This error resulted in a pretty long train ride (although a nice woman at supper tonight told me it wasn’t a train but a tram).  
 We went up and up and up. The valley dropped away below for an aerial view of the city and Oslofjord. Then a lake, and very beautiful houses, including some interesting traditional sod & grass-roofed ones. In the distance we could see the old ski jump. At the end of the line we got out, looked around and quickly got back on. Eventually we found the enormous park, set in a busy commercial area. Families and children were everywhere. “Epic” is a word used so often and poorly t has lost much of its power, but if it were still a meaningful word it would apply. The sculptures and the design of the park itself are epic. There are over 200 sculptures, almost entirely of humans at different stages of life, all arranged symmetrically in a formal garden design around a central raised platform topped by a carved obelisk of figures, and a huge black fountain. The corners of the platform hold massive figures, reminding me of both Bernini’s Fiumi Fountain and the Albert Memorial. But this was different, it wasn’t a celebration of one man, or of human figures representing great rivers. This piece, the largest permanent public display of sculpture made by one person, is a tribute to human life itself. It offers no advice, no instructions, but over 200 big strong active humans, young and old, in metal and stone. 


One Comment Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    Thank you Betty for the beautiful post! And photos! Some day I will have to visit it as well!

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