The Norsk Kultur (Norweigan Culture) exhibit blended artifacts from the history of Norway with the artwork of the Disney movie, Frozen. The exhibit resided inside the Stave Church Gallery and included handmade instruments, furniture and more.
Signage outside the Stave Church read:
The Norwegians built the first Stave Churches or Stavkirke around the year 1050. When St. Olaf brought Christianity to Norway, the Norwegians turned to the craft they knew best, woodworking, to build their new churches.
They blended Chrisitian symbols with Viking images to create this impressive buildings. Note the wooden dragon heads decorating the eaves.
Other European countries built wooden churches, but only Norway’s are still standing. Of the 1,000 Norwegian Stave Churches built in the Middle Ages, 28 survive today.
The gallery highlighted artifacts from Norway’s history, some of which dated back to the 1200’s. There were four main exhibits inside the gallery.
Norway’s Original Population
In this exhibit, a Sami man was presented against an icy backdrop.
Inside the display itself an explanation of the people read:
The Sami are Scandinavia’s indigenous people. In Norway, they are mostly located in the northern region and are protected under The Same Act. They have had a relationship with the Norwegians since the Viking Age.
The Same are often described as reindeer herders, but they are also very involved in coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding. Sami are most easily recognizable by their traditional costume, the kolt. Kolts are often made with leather, broadcloth or frieze. Decoration varies from area to area, and even family to family.
Today, the Norwegian Sami have their own parliament, Independence Day and flag, and even their own capital in Karasjok, Norway.
Within the exhibit, additional signage explained the Southern Sami Man’s Outfit:
Many Sami people spend their lives living in nature. They must be properly attired to battle the harsh conditions of Norway weather. This jacket (koft) is made of dark blue felt and is paired with a wool hat and shoes made of tanned reindeer leather. The sheath on this knife is made of reindeer antler, while the handle is wrapped in reindeer suede. It is adorned with diamond motifs, traditionally found on Southern Sami pieces.
On the back wall of the exhibit, artwork from Frozen was explained with the below description:
While creating the character Kristoff, filmmakers drew inspiration from the indigenous people of Scandinavia, the Sami. Kristoff represents a blend of both the Northern and Southern Sami culture. His clothing is a form of the traditional Sami costume, the kolt. He also wears iconic Sami shoes with turned-up toes.
Kristoff is a true outdoorsman. He lives high up in the mountains and harvests and sells ice to the kingdom of Arendelle with help from his best friend, a loyal reindeer named Sven. He might be rough around the edges, but Kristoff proves to be a good resource for Anna.
On either side of the exhibit, there were a series of images from Norway and Frozen. To the left of exhibit read:
While preparing to create the world of Frozen, filmmakers traveled through Norway and captured hundreds of photographs for inspiration. These photographs and their experiences became the basis for some of the most iconic scenes in the film.
To the right of the exhibit read:
The team relied on 4,000 computers to help make the film. Depending on the shot, it could take up to 30 hours to complete one frame of footage on one computer. To populate the entire kingdom of Arendelle, filmmakers built more than 300 character models and hundreds of props and scenic environments – some based on what they discovered in Norway.
In the center of the gallery, a small exhibit featured a snow covered model of a stave church. The description can be found below:
In Frozen, the Kingdom of Arendelle has nestled between steep mountains and deep fjords. Many such settlements exist along Norway’s coastline Staykirke (stave churches) were built on prominent locations to make these settlements.
The steep roof and flexible design allow these structures to easily withstand windy and snowy conditions. The castle of Arendelle features similar architecture including a triangular stacked roof, intricate wood carvings and rich ornamentation.
This model is a 1/87 scale reproduction of a classic Gol stave church.
Folk Art in Daily Life
The artifacts in this exhibit were accented with artwork from the movie as well. The main description read:
With nearly 40 percent of the land covered in forest and woodland area, it is no surprise that wood has long been a favorite material for Norwegian architects, designers and craftspeople.
Due to the difficulty of travel and lack of consistent communication systems, old Norwegian society was extremely isolated and mostly centered around the farm and community. While there were some well-known traveling folk artists, many individuals practice solely in their homes.
Folk artistry was incorporated into almost every item a Norwegian made. Today, these intricately decorated items serve as a reminder of some of the earliest forms of self-expression in Norwegian culture.
Next to the photo of the shopkeeper Oaken was an explanation of how Frozen incorporated many of Norway’s geographical elements.
Norway is a vast landscape broken by huge fjords and towering mountains. The world of Arendelle incorporates many of Norway’s majestic geographical elements.
To help keep the characters and environments cohesive, rosemaling was incorporated into everything from architecture and furniture to embroidery, costumes and even Elsa’s magic. Different styles of rosemaling helped define the personality of each character. Anna is playful and has floral rosemaling, while Hans is more regal and wears a more traditional design.
Music as a Form of Expression
A collection of musical instruments and other artifacts sat next to a smaller exhibit featuring a Norwegian woman. The description of the exhibit was as follows:
In the remote villages and farms tucked inside Norway’s deep fjords, the sound of a fiddle playing has long echoed. Through the centuries, this folk music was encouraged by the religious centers and traveling musicians throughout Norway.
The 1870s and 80s because known as the Golden Age of Norwegian music. Composers such as Edvard Grieg, Halfdan Kierfulf, and Johan Svendsen became famous for blending classical compositions with inspiration from folk music.
Today, Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen each have their own philharmonic orchestra, and Bergen hosts the Bergen International Music Festival each year in May.
The musical instruments were also accompanied by explanations as well:
Handmade instruments were popular in old Norway. These could have been used as a signal instrument for herding animals or to play melodies. There are two blowing techniques for these types of instruments: the trumpet principle and the clarinet principle. The horn with metal dates back to the early 1800s, while the horn with finger holes is of unknown origins.
Additional instruments and artifacts included the following:
Named for the region of southwestern Norway where this type of stringing arrangement was first inverted, the Hardanger fiddle is now synonymous with Norwegian folk music. Similar in body shape to the violin, it has more strings. While the bow strikes only the top four strings, the others vibrate as well, creating a haunting, echoing sound. Always elaborately decorated, the Hardanger fiddle is the centerpiece of any Noregian dance or celebration.
Bentwood boxes with chip carved and incised designs. The designs are symbols representing fertility and protection. These were used for storing food, often cheese.
1831 & 1839
Wooden Fragment with Carvings
Akin to a “doodle board”, this piece was likely used by an apprentice carver trying out different decorative motifs.
The burnt material inside this wooden bowl indicates it contained oil, which would have been burned for both light and warmth
The holes on the handle of this spoon were likely used for fastening it to one’s belt when everyone carried with them their own personal spoon and knife
The abstracted animal motif on this spoon served as a transition between the animal motifs of the Viking Age and the floral motifs of the late medieval period.
Due to the deep, sharp, and intricate carvings, this spoon is considered one of the finest examples of medieval Norwegian carving
Kolrosing is an old technique where a fine-line design was etched into an object. The design was brought out by rubbing coal dust, finely ground bark, or later coffee grounds over the surface.
Like the other exhibits, this exhibit featured Frozen artwork as well and it included an explanation of the role music played in the film:
Music plays a large role in Frozen. The film blends traditional Norwegian sounds with contemporary songs and score to create a breathtaking musical canvas that carries moviegoers effortlessly through the story.
The filmmakers recruited a Noregian linguist to help with the lyrics for an Old Norse song written for Elsa’s coronation. And the team even travelled to Norway to record the all-female choir Cantus for a piece inspired by traditional Norwegian music.
The soundtrack for this gallery features a sampling of songs from Frozen.
Also included in the music exhibit was another description of clothing used in Frozen:
In Frozen, when Elsa’s icy powers trap her kingdom in eternal winter, Anna dons a warm dress with rosemaling, a decorative embroidery that’s inspired by Norway’s traditional bunad.
While studying snow, the filmmakers found that a snowflake forms from an ice crystal that begins to branch and plate due to humidity and temperature. Like fingerprints, all snowflakes are unique. A special snowflake generator was created to build more than 2,000 individual CGI snowflakes that were used in the film.
In the exhibit next to the music exhibit, a Norwegian woman stood modeling a bunad.
From Tradition to Today
In the mid-19th century, factory-made cloth and garments began to replace homespun products. Seemingly headed for extinction, the bunad saw new life when author Hulda Garborg released a book in 1903 celebrating the bunat tradition. A folk costume renaissance was soon born, which still continues today.
Although bunads are no longer daily wear, the number of known varieties is greater than ever. THis handicraft is an important aspect of Norwegian tradition and continues to serve as way to showcase seamstress, painting, carving skills and more.
Artifacts such as the bentwood tine and jewelry box are a few examples of day-to-day objects that are both functional and beautifully crafted by the people of Norway.
These pieces come from the Norwegian Viking age (800-1100 A.D.). Jewelry such as these broches commonly accompanied the Norwegian traditional costume, the bunad. The Myr vestre brooch was found on the same farm where the bunad displayed here was sewn some 700 years later. It features an animal motif typical fo the Viking Age. This motif was replaced by a more Christina floral motif in the medieval period.
Norsk Kultur presents a collection of authentic Norwegian artifacts that represent elements of Norwegian culture that inspired the world of Frozen. The filmmakers spent a large portion of time in Norway studying her extraordinary landscapes, people and traditions. Although set in the fictional city of Arendelle, Norway’s beauty and charm helped the filmmakers create the magical world of Frozen.
Creating the World of Frozen
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Frozen tells the story of Anna and her search for her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter. Along the way, Anna befriends mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, and together they face Everest-like conditions as they race to save the kingdom.
Research played a large part in creating the world of Frozen, which is set in a fictional land inspired by Norway’s captivating landscapes, architecture, culture and people. Members of the production team traveled to Norway to study everything from terrain to buildings, snowfall patterns, traditional attire and more.
No detail is too small when doing research for an animated film. The sound designers spent time studying the sound of ice cracking. The lighting designers examined how light reflects and refracts off of snow and ice. The animators even observed a real-life reindeer to influence Sven’s performance in the film.
Adults, fans of history.
TIMES GUIDE - OPENING/CLOSING
This location typically opens at 11 AM with the rest of World Showcase.
Epcot would like to thank the following institutions and individuals for their gracious support of this exhibition:
Museum of Natural History and Archaeology of the Norwegian University of Science and technology Trondheim, Norway and the Norwegian State*
Scandinavian Cultural Center, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA
Vesterheim Noregian-American Museum Decorah, Iowa
Dr. Elisabeth Ida Ward, Scandinavian Cultural Center, Tacoma, WA
The creators of Disney Frozen
*Objects on loan from Museum of Natural History and Archaeology of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway are the property of the Norwegian State.