Fram Museum / Sarner International Ltd

Ross Magri

Fram Museum / Sarner International Ltd

Fram Museum Bygdoynesveien 36 0286 Oslo

Oslo, Norway

Museums + Heritage Awards 2013 International Award

Interpreting A Design Brief - The Fram Museum

In 2013, Sarner was the proud recipient of the Museum and Heritage International Award for The Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway.
Sarner International is a multi-skilled group of people encompassing both creative and engineering skills delivering projects for the museum, leisure and educational fields both in the UK and internationally.

Our clients have included the Science Museum, National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the National Army Museum, Tate Gallery, HMS Belfast, Royal Navel Museum, The Norwegian Glacier Museum, Polaria in Tromso, Norway and many others. Our experience has been built over a period of more than 40 years, during which time we designed and delivered many whole projects from concept to completion.

Amongst these projects is the Fram Museum, located on a peninsula on the western side of the city of Oslo, just a short boat or taxi ride from the city centre. The FRAM, which was the first ship specially built in Norway for polar research, is the world's strongest wooden ship and holds the record for sailing the farthest distance, both north and south. 
The Fram was used on three important expeditions: with Fridtjof Nansen on a drift over the Arctic Ocean 1893-96; with Otto Sverdrup to the Arctic archipelago, west of Greenland (now the Nunavut region of Canada) 1898-1902; and with Roald Amundsen to Antarctica for his South Pole expedition 1910-12.
The Museum, which is built around the actual ship, first opened in the 1930's and contains exhibitions of the most famous voyages of global historical and scientific significance, with its centrepiece being the ship itself.
The original building that housed the Fram was initially no more than an enclosure to protect the ship for future generations, but over time the building started to house collections of artefacts that formed part of the ship's expeditions. It also became part of a number of museums that are located on Bygdoslash;y, which include the Kon-Tiki  Museum, Norsk Folke Museum, the Viking Ship Museum and  the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

In 2010, Geir Kloslash;ver,the Museum's current director, approached Sarner with the aim of making structural changes to the building and its contents to bring the museum to current standards and to provide a better exhibition space. The brief was two-fold: to change the whole look of the Museum and to also add value to the visitor experience, so that the Museum offered more than a purely static exhibition.  It had always been a very light and bright space, but the client felt that this didn't reflect the dark and often haunting realities of the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. The ship had become an incidental part of the Museum but needed to be the focal point and truly be centre stage.

Visitors to the Museum begin their experience on the ship's top deck and go on an exciting immersive journey around the ship to discover the realities of being an explorer in the early 1900''s. The history of the ship would also be a major part of the exhibition.

A key requirement was to display the collection of scientific instruments and artefacts in a more interesting way that is informative without being burdened with too much detail. Starting on the top floor of the Museum, visitors learn the story of the three main expeditions on the FRAM through new and modern layered graphics with creative theatrical sets along the way.  The theatre of the exhibition continues as the new graphics tell the explorers' stories as though the visitors are reading a book or seeing a play. This is interspersed with scenic elements featuring original artefacts and dioramas to enhance the story. One spectacular two metre set shows FRAM stuck in the ice in 1893 during Nansen''s voyage to be the first person to reach the North Pole.  This is all further enhanced by interactive touch screens throughout the exhibition offering eight different languages. 

Visitors are in for a real treat when they step on to the top deck of the ship where Sarner has magically created an indoor aurora Borealis.  The captivating three minute Northern Lights show (running every 20 minutes), uses 5 projectors to create a horizon effect 30 metres around the FRAM.  Told in visual form, the mesmerizing sequence shows how the beautiful yellow, green, red, violet and blue lights are formed when large numbers of the Sun's electrically charged particles react with the Earth along its magnetic field.

The excitement continues with the new dark walk experience: a 10m x 8m two minute immersive sensory adventure showcasing the fear and dangers that early explorers faced while charting the Arctic regions.  As visitors walk through a set of double doors they immediately feel a drop in temperature as the entire walk-through simulates Arctic temperatures.  A representation of a boat deck, which shows a stormy night sky, tilts and rocks to evoke a turbulent sea and visitors witness the monsters of legend that sailors feared so much.
From here, visitors enter a small cabin of the ship where the crushing ice dramatically breaks through the wood using mechanical and backlighting effects. Then visitors walk through into an ice tunnel, lit using LED to create a blue ice-like translucency. This creatively captures the beauty and claustrophobia of the ice whilst the freezing temperature of minus 10 degrees enhances the experience, together with the natural ice that forms on the surfaces of the structure.
Within the new Explorers Club, situated above the dark walk, there is a great vantage point from which visitors can see the entire ship.  Sarner based the design of this room on the main hall of the Royal Geographical Society in London to evoke the feeling of discovery and exploration.  Used as a group meeting place and conference room, the Explorers Club features paintings and framed screens showing footage of the FRAM's historic explorations.

As a result of the successful re-launch of the Fram Museum, Sarner were subsequently commissioned to design and deliver an extension to the Museum which houses the GJOslash;A. This was the first vessel to transit the fabled Northwest Passage with explorer Roald Amundsen and is on display in this brand new building. The fascination and intrigue of the North West Passage tantalised sailors for 400 years, and this almost mythical story is now revealed in a new exhibition that brings to life its historic adventures. The exhibition features the GJOslash;A as a centerpiece but also explores the story of the Maud and Amundsen's continued explorations by airship and seaplane via a collage of artefacts, graphics and dioramas.

Visitors begin their polar journey in the brand new cinema/lecture theatre which has been fitted with a three projector, 8 meter wide screen and surround sound effects.  Here, Sarner has created an exciting 10 minute film titled The Polar Explorers which charts the North and South Pole explorers, the FRAM, the GJOslash;A, expeditions to Greenland and the race to the South Pole as well as the more modern explorer ls"vessels', the N24 and N25.

As a result of the extensive upgrade, the museum is now rated as one of the best destinations by many and in addition to the Museum and Heritage industry award, it is has also been rated by Trip Advisor as Travellers Choice for 2013.


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