The boy who shaped world literature lived here. Nevertheless, he is remembered in many ways in the town. You can join an Ibsen walk, see a play, enjoy delicious cakes that would have been familiar to the Ibsens, or visit Skien library’s dedicated Ibsen collection. And don’t forget to download the Henrik Ibsen app. Follow the guided walks to explore Ibsen’s childhood and the memories of him that are all around us.
The questions and myths are endless. A visit to Skien – the town of the playwright’s childhood – may not provide all the answers but perhaps a few of the pieces that make up the puzzle of Henrik Ibsen. How could a boy from Skien become one of the world’s greatest playwrights? Was it his Skien childhood that inspired him? Was it the song of the town’s sawmills and waterfalls, or the sound of hammer blows from the ironworks? Was it his time as an apprentice in Grimstad, or Rome’s magnificent Pantheon?
A week of celebrations Henrik was born on 20 March, and the week around his birthday is marked with special events all over Skien. The Henrik Ibsen Museum opens for the season a month later. The museum is at Venstøp farm, where little Henrik moved with his family when he was seven years old. The journey to Venstøp from Skien is just 5 kilometres, but that was probably a long journey in 1835.
Born into prosperity While exotic spices, beautiful fabrics and spirits were being sold in his father’s lucrative business on the ground floor of Stockmannsgården, a boy was born in the apartment above. It was 1828, and the boy was christened at home and given the names Henrik Johan Ibsen. It was early spring, 20 March, and from the windows of the apartment the family could see straight across to the church that stood at the heart of the bustling town square. When he was two years old, the family moved up the street to the elegant Altenburggården, the childhood home of Henrik’s mother Marichen. Although the journey was not a long one, it was the very first of many in Ibsen’s life.
Ibsen’s journeys “I feel the uneasiness of travel in my blood,” Ibsen once wrote. This summer’s exhibition at the Henrik Ibsen Museum explores the theme “Henrik Ibsen’s journeys”, using artefacts and stories of the playwright’s life. You can also get to know a selection of his best-known plays, and you are of course welcome to visit his childhood home itself. This season opens a new escape room called Per Gynt Escape Game. The Henrik Ibsen Museum has something for visitors of all ages. As well as the museum’s exhibitions, there is a bowling alley, dressing-up room, café and museum shop.
Experience Ibsen Skien burnt to the ground in 1886, and the buildings and streets we see today are not as they were when Henrik Ibsen 58