Playwright Henrik Ibsen is truly a national treasure of Norway. Considered by many to be the founding father of modern drama as we know it, Ibsen is also the playwright whose works are most frequently performed just after Shakespeare. If you're a lover of the arts, you may wish to get to know Norway as Ibsen knew it - and you'll have plenty of chances.
Before your trip
Before you embark on your Norway cruise, make sure to take in a play or two of Ibsen's. If you can find a live performance, all the better, but reading them is also a good way to experience the dramas. We recommend his most famous plays, which are "An Enemy of the People," "Brand," "Peer Gynt" and "A Dollhouse." Since many of the sites of interest to Ibsen enthusiasts in Norway have to do with his life, you may also wish to open a biography or two of the artist to have a deeper appreciation for where he came from and what the circumstances of his upbringing were like.
Ibsen's childhood home
The first Ibsen museum that may interest you is The Henrik Ibsen Museum in Skien, just north of the city center. Skien is Henrik Ibsen's birthplace. When he was born in 1828, his family lived on the market square, later moving just outside of town as his father's fortunes suffered a reversal. The house on display as a museum is that last house, where Ibsen lived until the age of 15. There are a number of exhibitions available, with the farmhouse preserved as it was at Ibsen's time and has a large orchard on site with a bowling alley. Ibsen passed his youth at Skien in learning, drawing, performing magic tricks and church activities. As he matured, his father began to think about his future. By the time Ibsen is 15, his father had arranged for him to apprentice with a pharmacist in Grimstad.
The apprenticeship years
In Grimstad, you can visit another Ibsen Museum, this one located in the house where Ibsen underwent his apprenticeship. You can even see the place where he wrote his first play, "Catalina." This museum has honored Ibsen since 1916. Extensive renovations took place in 2006, and now the museum focuses closely on the interactions between Ibsen and the people of Grimstad - as well as the possible influence the Grimstad years had on his later writing.
Ibsen's final act
If you choose to make it to Oslo, perhaps on a post-trip excursion, you can hit the last Ibsen museum, which was his home in Oslo for the last 11 years of his life. It is also where he wrote his final two plays (Sort of a run-on, either delete the last fact or break into two). From 1895 to 1906, Ibsen and his wife Suzannah lived in the home you will be able to see. Everything has been restored, including Ibsen's own furniture and other personal effects. This is a unique opportunity to see into the private home life of an artistic genius, and the interpretive materials available give insight into both his life and his works. The museum is run by the Norsk Folkemuseum, and occasionally puts on theatrical and educational events for visitors to enjoy.