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Lead-up to the Olympic festivities

Her Majesty The Queen opened the new Norwegian Olympic Museum at the Maihaugen open air museum this evening. Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess was also in attendance in Lillehammer – the day before the opening of the Youth Olympic Games.


The museum highlights Norway as the host country for two Olympic Winter Games, and gives visitors the chance to re-experience the national celebration and memorable moments from the games in 1952 and 1994. A key component of the exhibition is a model of the Lysgårdbakkene ski jumping hill, where Her Royal Highness Princess Ingrid Alexandra will light the flame when the Youth Olympic Games open on Friday. The museum will be opened to the public on the same day.

Shared her Olympic memories

In her opening speech, the Queen shared some of her own memories of the Olympic Games, including watching Stein Eriksen win the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom in 1952, an event that has inspired her throughout her life:

-  In 1952, I was fortunate enough to see Stein Eriksen winning the gold medal in giant slalom at Norefjell – at the Olympic Games – quite an experience for a 14 year old girl. At that moment I felt the wonderful sparkle of inspiration, and I started my first nervous efforts at down-hill. Over the years I learned an important lesson – which I think may apply to all aspects of life. That is: Be not afraid of great heights - and try once more, again and again till you reach your goal! 

Dan Børge Akerø, a Norwegian television personality, was the master of ceremonies for the evening’s event, and Olympic heroes from both the recent and distant past were among the guests. Mr Akerø interviewed Olympic gold medalists Bjørn Dæhlie and Stine Lise Hattestad, as well as internationally renowned trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen who gave a memorable performance at the 1994 Olympics. Mr Antonsen also performed several pieces this evening.

Other speakers this evening included Director Jostein Skurdal and Chairman of the Board Børre Rognlien of the Lillehammer Museum foundation, Minister of Culture Linda Cathrine Hofstad Helleland, and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach. Following their remarks, the Queen had the honour of officially opening the museum.

Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit concluded their visit with a guided tour of the exhibition.

The exhibition

The new museum has focused on designing interactive exhibitions. The museum’s guests can test their biathlon skills in a simulator, and the video installation “Inside the race” allows the public to feel the excitement and pressure prior to a competition. A digital newspaper gives an overview of the media coverage leading up to the games both in Oslo in 1952 and in Lillehammer in 1994.

The history of the Olympic Games is full of magical moments, and there are many opportunities to take a nostalgic look at the past through objects, photographs and scenes from the games in 1952 and 1994.

A model of the Lysgårdsbakkene ski jumping hill in Lillehammer is found at the centre of the museum. The hill is brought to life through images and sound, giving the public a taste of the festive atmosphere, sports fever, colours and achievements of that period.

A sense of history

Prior to moving to Maihaugen, the Norwegian Olympic Museum was located in the Håkons Hall sports arena. Queen Sonja was also in attendance during the opening ceremony in 1997, together with King Harald. The purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve, disseminate, document and conduct research on material from the history of the Olympic Games, with emphasis on Norwegian Olympic history and Norwegian sports history in general.

According to the hosts, the Norwegian Olympic Museum is the only museum in Northern Europe that covers Olympic history from Antiquity to the present day.



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