Polhøgda Polhøgda in summer
Construction of the Nansen family's new home at Polhøgda started in April 1900. In August 1901 the house was finished, and Fridtjof Nansen moved in with his pregnant wife and 3 children. Nansen had drawn the construction plans himself, with the professional assistance of architect Hjalmar Welhaven. Nansen wanted his new house erected in a kind of "Norwegian castle style, in stone". Changes along the way made the plans less castle-like, however, and more inspired by Lawnhurst, the home of his friend Henry Simon near Manchester in England. By giving Polhøgda a touch of English 'mansion', Nansen got a representative and stately home with room for entertaining. Externally the mansion is reminiscent of the early Italian renaissance, whereas the shape of the windows and the tower draw our thoughts to medieval Romantic churches and castles.
Polhøgda in winter Polhøgda in winter
Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen
Polhøgda in spring Polhøgda in spring
Polhøgda. Courtyard side, with main entrance Courtyard side
With main entrance.
Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen
Polhøgda and Fridtjof Nansen's grave Fridtjof Nansen's grave
Fridtjof Nansen died at home, on 13 May 1930, while enjoying the spring sun on the balcony seen in background of this photo. Before his death, Nansen had clearly expressed that he did not wish a church burial. He wanted to be buried in the garden, under "my good birch tree", as he is reported to have put it. In the early 1930s, private burials were not allowed in Norway, and it took the Nansen family and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences six years to obtain permission to establish a private tomb for the late national hero. Fridtjof Nansen's son, the architect Odd Nansen, had prepared a plan for the tomb which was approved by the authorities. In the spring of 1937 the urn containing Nansen's ashes was finally moved to the new tomb, on the slope to the south of the house, and interred there with a simple ceremony.
Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen


Polhøgda, ground floor living room Ground floor living room
The English mansion style is evident in the large central hall, in two storeys with a gallery and an open fireplace. Here, there were frequent parties, large and small, for relatives and close friends. Eva Nansen's in-house recitals were famous. Almost all the furnishings, paintings etc. at Polhøgda today have been acquired after the Second World War.
Photo: Maryanne Rygg
Upstairs Upstairs
In Nansen's time, there were bedrooms all along the gallery. Today, they provide office space for researchers and staff of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.
Photo: Maryanne Rygg
Dining room at Polhøgda Dining Room
With Erik Werenskiold's wall paintings illustrating the Norwegian folk song "Liti Kjersti". (Detailed photographs of the wall painting are found below.)
Photo: Maryanne Rygg
Polhøgda. The Ladies' Drawing Room Ladies' Drawing Room
With Erik Werenskiold's portrait of Fridtjof Nansen.
Photo: Maryanne Rygg
Fridtjof Nansen's Study Room Fridtjof Nansen's study room
The study room is situated in the tower, with a beautiful view of Fornebu and the Oslo Fjord. When Nansen was at work there, there were standing orders not to disturb him. The room has been preserved basically as it was when he passed away in 1930.
Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen


Liti Kjersti
Liti Kjersti
Liti KjerstiLiti KjerstiLiti KjerstiLiti Kjersti
The dining room is light and festive, in part thanks to Erik Werenskiold's wall paintings (1904-1907), illustrating the Norwegian folk song "Liti Kjersti". This folk song tells of little Kjersti who is seduced by the Elf King, gives birth to his children, is spellbound and then drinks the "drink of forgetfulness", thus losing all memory of her previous life.

Photos: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen
Fridtjof Nansen portrait 1889 Portrait, 1889
By L. Szacinski, Christiania's leading photographer at the time and photographer to the Royal Court. It was only natural that he should also be photographer to the Nansen family.
The large portrait hanging at Polhøgda is dated 1896, but was actually taken in 1889, upon Nansen's return from Greenland.
Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen