Norsk Folkemuseum was founded by Hans Aall in 1894. This time period was marked by strong national fervor and a desire for a more independent position in the union with Sweden. In 1898 the new museum was permanently established on the Bygdøy peninsula near Oslo, where the first comprehensive exhibit on cultural history was opened in 1901.
The World’s first open-air museum established in 1881, King Oscar’s Collection, was incorporated in 1907. Thus Gol Stave Church and five other buildings were added to Norsk Folkemuseum. An ambitious plan for further expansion was successfully completed in 1934, adding new exhibit and storage area. The museum played a central role as a research institution and issued its own publications. During the 1950s and -60s this trend continued, and the research branched out to include many academic fields.
Efforts to improve the museum's economy in the 1990s were successful and gave way to new research projects, new exhibits and new audience attractions.
The focus of research was now shifted to center on the 20th century, adding 20th century buildings and artifacts to the collections. Buildings from this the last century are now being rebuilt on the museum grounds. Among these is a sizable red Norwegian barn from the 1950s. Another is a typical Oslo apartment building. Documentation projects have been made to conserve knowledge about today’s society. A main focus has been directed towards the situation for children youth and the multicultural population of Norway.
In 1993 The Ibsen museum located in the playwright Henrik Ibsen's apartment was established and included in Norsk Folkemuseum's portifolio. In 2004 Bygdø Royal Farm was given to the museum by the King of Norway. Norsk Folkemuseum will present modern and historical farming in addition to restore the 19th century royal park.
Based on a solid foundation of research, Norsk Folkemuseum is continuously upgrading its collections and exhibits, and thus defining its position among the great museums of Europe