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Bygdøy has several museums, like the Kon-Tiki Museum, which shows all year long the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum); the Viking Ship Museum; the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen. Bygdøy Royal Estate, the official summer residence of the King of Norway and Oscarshall Castle are also located here.
Bygdøy is one of Norway's oldest cultural landscapes with a rich history. Bygdøy has beautiful parks and forests and some of Oslo's most popular beaches, including the Huk ordinary and nudist beach. In 1885 there were only 111 houses at Bygdøy, today most of the huge gardens have been and are being split into smaller patches of land, making Bygdøy largely a residential zone while retaining a profile of upscale demographics. However, large parts of the area such as The King's Forest and the Bygdøy Royal Estate are protected from development.
In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, a memorial for the victims of the catastrophe was initiated by the Norwegian government. The memorial is located on the western shore of Bygdøy and was officially unveiled by HM King Harald V on 19 October 2007.
The name is from Norse times (Bygðey). The first element is bygð 'built district' (= area with houses and population) - in Norse times this was the only inhabited island in the inner part of Oslofjord. The last element is ey 'island'. (Bygdøy was originally an island, but it became a peninsula because of post-glacial rebound.)
The island belonged to the Cistercian monastery at Hovedøya, but is was confiscated by the Crown in 1532. The name was then changed to "Ladegaardsøen". The first element in this new name was ladegård m 'farm to give a manor (here Akershus fortress) income'. The last element -øen is the Danish finite form of ø 'island'. The old name was revived in 1877. It was first spelled "Bygdø", but from 1918 officially spelled "Bygdøy". However, the name Bygdø is preferred by many of its inhabitants and other West End inhabitants.
Bygdøy is accessible by bus, as the Oslo Public Transport Administration's bus line n.30 runs every 10 minutes from Oslo Central Station. Between April and October, the neighborhood can also be reached by the local public ferry departing from Aker Brygge every 30 minutes. Cars are allowed and there is a large parking lot in front of the Kon-Tiki Museum.
- Memorial (Laila Haugan, editor. Public Art Norway: 2008)