Frogner Park

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Frogner Park
Frognerparken 20091015-11.JPG
Location Frogner Manor, Frogner, Oslo
Nearest city Oslo
Area 450,000 m²
Established Ca. 1750 as a baroque garden of Frogner Manor
Early 20th century as a large public park

Frogner Park (Norwegian: Frognerparken) is a public park located in the borough of Frogner in Oslo, Norway, and is historically part of Frogner Manor. The manor house is located in the south of the park, and houses the Oslo City Museum. Both the park, the entire borough of Frogner as well as Frognerseteren derive their names from Frogner Manor.

Frogner Park contains, in its present centre, the world famous Vigeland installation (Norwegian: Vigelandsanlegget), a permanent sculpture installation created by Gustav Vigeland between the 1920s and 1943.[1] Although sometimes incorrectly referred to in English as the "Vigeland (Sculpture) Park," the Vigeland installation is not a separate park, but the name of the sculptures within Frogner Park.[2] The sculpture park consists of sculptures as well as larger structures such as bridges and fountains.

The park of Frogner Manor was historically smaller and centered on the manor house, and was landscaped as a baroque park in the 18th century by its owner, the noted military officer Hans Jacob Scheel. It was landscaped as a romantic park in the 19th century by then-owner, German-born industrialist Benjamin Wegner. Large parts of the estate were sold to give room for city expansion in the 19th century, and the remaining estate was bought by Christiania municipality in 1896 and made into a public park. It was the site of the 1914 Jubilee Exhibition, and Vigeland's sculpture arrangement was constructed from the 1920s. In addition to the sculpture park, the manor house and a nearby pavilion, the park also contains Frognerbadet (the Frogner Baths) and Frogner Stadium. The Frogner Pond is found in the centre of the park.

Frogner Park is the largest park in the city and covers 45 hectares;[3] the sculpture installation is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist. Frogner Park is the most popular tourist attraction of Norway, with between 1 and 2 million visitors each year,[4] and is open to the public at all times. Frogner Park and the Vigeland installation (Norwegian: Frognerparken og Vigelandsanlegget) was protected under the Heritage Act on 13 February 2009 as the first park in Norway.[5][6]


Frogner Manor and Frogner Park painted in 1815
Frogner Manor and Frogner Park painted in 1842 by I.C. Dahl.
The 1914 Jubilee Exhibition seen from the Frogner Pond

In the middle of the 18th century Hans Jacob Scheel, then owner of the Frogner Manor, laid out a baroque garden adjacent to his new manor house. It was expanded by the people who followed him, starting with Bernt Anker (1746–1805) who bought Frogner in 1790 and expanded the main building. Benjamin Wegner took over the property in 1836 and he transformed the garden into a romantic park around 1840. Later, most of the arable land was sold to private developers.

Around one square kilometer remained when the City of Oslo bought the property in 1896 to secure space for further urban development. The municipal government decided around 1900 to make a park for recreation and sports. Frogner Stadium was opened near the road and the area near the buildings was opened to the public in 1904. Norwegian architect Henrik Bull designed the grounds and some of the buildings erected in Frogner Park for the 1914 Jubilee Exhibition. [7][8]

The municipal government subsequently decided that Gustav Vigeland's fountain and all his monuments and statues should be placed in the park. The area was ready for Gustav Vigeland fountain in 1924 and the final plan was released in 1932 by the city-council. Most of the statues depict people engaging in various typically human pursuits, such as running, wrestling, dancing, hugging, holding hands and so on. However, Vigeland occasionally included some statues that are more abstract, including one statue, which shows an adult male, fighting off a horde of babies.[9]

Manor house[edit]

Main article: Frogner Manor
The classical pavilion, a wedding gift from Frogner's former owner Benjamin Wegner to his wife Henriette Seyler, was moved here from Blaafarveværket in the 1830s

The manor buildings are located in the southern part of the park. The buildings in Danish country house style were built in the 1750s when Hans Jacob Scheel took over the property. After Bernt Anker, who was Norway's richest man, took over the estate in 1790, the buildings were further extended, and the manor house became one of the most important meeting places of Norwegian high society. They were rebuilt again by the industrialist Benjamin Wegner, who became owner in 1836 and who moved the tower to the main building.

Frogner Manor, located in the south of Frogner Park

Under Wegner, some surrounding buildings were also built, the pavilion on the nearby height "Utsikten" (The View) and the coachman house at the main gate in front of the manor house. The pavilion was a wedding gift from Wegner to his wife Henriette Seyler, and was moved from Blaafarveværket in the 1830s. It is a classical octagonal round temple with colonnade. The ceiling is a painted replica in miniature of the dome of the Pantheon, Rome. In front of the main buildings is also a sundial built for Wegner.

Today, the manor buildings are occupied by Oslo City Museum.

Outside the manor buildings, there is also a café opened in 1918 (Frogner Park Café) and a restaurant opened in 1960 (Herregårdskroen, "the Manor House Restaurant").

Frogner Park's front gate

Vigeland installation – the sculptures in Frogner Park[edit]

Frogner Park with the Vigeland installation seen in the centre
The monolith

The Vigeland installation (Norwegian: Vigelandsanlegget), originally called the Tørtberg installation, is located in the present centre of Frogner Park. It is the name of the arrangement of sculptures and not of an area as such, as the entire park is called Frogner Park.[2] The Vigeland installation in Frogner Park is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the "Vigeland Park," but this name has no official status, is not commonly used in Oslo and is considered inaccurate.[2] The legal name of the entire park in accordance with the Place Name Act (stadnamnlova) is Frognerparken (Frogner Park).[10] The sculpture installation was, as part of Frogner Park, protected under the Heritage Act on 13 February 2009 under the name Frogner Park and the Vigeland installation (Norwegian: Frognerparken og Vigelandsanlegget).[5]

The sculpture area in Frogner Park covers 80 acres (320,000 m2) and features 212 bronze and granite sculptures all designed by Gustav Vigeland. In 1940 the Bridge was the first part of the Sculpture Park to be opened to the public. 58 of the park's sculptures reside along the Bridge, a 100-metre (328 ft) long, 15 metre (49 ft) wide connection between the Main Gate and the Fountain. All are clad in bronze and contribute to the Human Condition theme of the park.[citation needed] One of the park's more popular statues, Angry Boy (Sinnataggen), is placed here. Visitors could enjoy the sculptures while most of the park was still under construction. At the end of the bridge lies the Children’s Playground, a collaboration of eight bronze statues, all in the likenesses of children at play.

Frogner Pond seen from the main bridge

Originally designed to stand in Eidsvolls plass in front of the Parliament of Norway, the Fountain (Fontenen) was fabricated from bronze and adorned with 60 individual bronze reliefs. Portraying children and skeletons in the arms of giant trees, the Fountain suggests that from death comes new life.[citation needed] On the ground surrounding the Fountain lies an 1800 square meter mosaic laid in black and white granite. It took Vigeland from 1906 to 1947 to establish the monument.[citation needed]

The Main Gate to the Vigeland installation is forged of granite and wrought iron and serve as an entrance to Frogner Park itself. The monumental Main Gate marks the entrance on Kirkeveien in the east to the 850-meter-long axis that leads through the Bridge to the Fountain, the Monolith, which ends in the Wheel of Life in the west of the park. It consists of five large gates, two small pedestrian gates and two copper-roofed gate houses, both adorned with weather vanes. The Main Gate was designed in 1926, redesigned in the 1930s and erected in 1942. It was financed by a Norwegian bank.

The central bridge during winter
Frogner Park

The Monolith Plateau is a platform in the north of Frogner Park made of steps that houses the Monolith totem itself. 36 figure groups reside on the elevation bringing with them the “circle of life” message. Access to the Plateau is made via eight figural gates forged in wrought iron. The gates were designed between 1933 and 1937 and erected shortly after Vigeland died in 1943.

At the highest point in Frogner Park lies the park's most popular attraction, The Monolith (Monolitten). The name derives from the Latin word monolithus from the Greek word μονόλιθος (monolithos), derived from μόνος ("one" or "single") and λίθος ("stone") implying the totem to be fabricated from one (mono) solid piece of stone (lith). Construction of the massive monument began in 1924 when Gustav Vigeland himself modeled it out of clay in his studio in Frogner. The design process took him ten months, and it is speculated that Vigeland had the help of a few sketches drafted in 1919. The model was then cast in plaster.[11]

In the autumn of 1927 a block of granite weighing several hundred tons was delivered to the park from a stone quarry in Halden. It was erected a year later and a wooden shed was built around it to keep out the elements. Vigeland’s plaster design was set up next to it to give reference to its sculptors. Transferring of the figures began in 1929 and took 3 stone carvers 14 years to accomplish. On the Christmas of 1944 the public was allowed to see The Monolith and 180,000 people crowded the wooden shed to get a close look at the creation. The shed was demolished shortly thereafter. The Monolith towers 14.12 meters (46.32 ft) high and is composed of 121 human figures rising towards the sky.

At the end of the 850-meter-long axis lies a sundial, forged in 1930 (there is also an 1830s sundial outside the manor house in the south), and finally the Wheel of Life, crafted in 1933-34. The wheel is more or less a wreath depicting four adults, a child, and a baby floating in harmony (the baby and child are on opposite sides).[citation needed]

The latest addition to the park is the statue "Surprised". Originally completed in plaster in 1942 only months before the model, Austrian refugee Ruth Maier, was sent to Auschwitz and killed, a bronze cast made in 2002 is now on permanent display.[12][13][14]

Sports and bathing facilities[edit]

Entrance of Frognerbadet

On the outskirts of Frogner Park is Frognerbadet (Frogner Baths), which opened in 1956. Old Frogner Stadium opened in 1901 and was the city's main arena for skating. In 1914 the current Frogner Stadium was built right next to the old stadium. At the site of the old Frogner Stadium, there are now tennis courts.


  • Roede, Lars (2012). Frogner hovedgård; bondegård, herskapsgård, byens gård, Pax forlag, ISBN 8253034962
  • Sanstøl, Jorunn (ed.) (1996). Frognerparken – fra dyrket mark til byens park. Byminner, No. 1/2–96, Oslo Bymuseum/Frognerparkens venner
  • Wikborg, Tone (1985). Gustav Vigeland – His Art and Sculpture Park (Oslo: Aschehoug) ISBN 82-03-16150-2

In popular culture[edit]

  • The book The Doomsday Key written by author James Rollins has scenes in Frogner Park
  • The Norwegian movie Elling features a scene in which the sex-obsessed Kjell-Bjarne admires the sculptures of the park with Elling.
  • The science fiction novel Mockymen by Ian Watson utilizes the park as a plot point.
  • The song Vigeland's Dream on Eleanor McEvoy's album "Out There" describes a walk in the park.
  • The science fiction novella The State of the Art by Iain M Banks includes a walk in the park by the main characters.
  • In the detective thriller The Leopard, part of the Harry Hole series, Frogner Park is the scene of a sensational murder case.


  1. ^ Frogner Park (
  2. ^ a b c Einar Solvoll (2008-11-14). "Aften spør for deg". Aftenposten. Vigelandsparken finnes egentlig ikke! Vigelandsanlegget er en del av Frognerparken, som er det store restarealet av Frogner hovedgård 
  3. ^ Frognerparken (Frogner Park's friends)
  4. ^ Om Frognerparken, Frognerparkens Venner
  5. ^ a b Frognerparken og Vigelandsanlegget, Kulturminnesøk
  6. ^ Miljøverndepartementet: «Frognerparken fredet» besøkt 13. februar 2009
  7. ^ Welcome to Frogner Park (Agency for Outdoor Recreation and Nature Management)
  8. ^ Jubileumsutstillingen i Kristiania, 1914 (Geir Tandberg Steigan)
  9. ^ History of Frogner Park (Aktiv I
  10. ^ "Frognerparken," in Sentralt stedsnavnregister (The National Place Name Register), Norwegian Mapping and Cadastre Authority
  11. ^ Monolitten (Vigeland-museet)
  12. ^ NRK P2 7.august 2002 (read online 3.september 2012)
  13. ^ Aftenposten om Ruth Maier, Norges «Anne Frank»
  14. ^ accessed 3.september 2012

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 59°55′36″N 10°42′5″E / 59.92667°N 10.70139°E / 59.92667; 10.70139