Aulestad Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsons hjem
Photo Jan Haug

The Home

Karoline and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson arrived at Aulestad with their four children on a warm and sunny day in June 1875. They arrived directly from a lengthy stay in Italy. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s wish to rent a farm in Norway had been granted.

The family continued to travel abroad for long periods, but Aulestad became the base they always returned to. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson lived here until his death in 1910 and Karoline Bjørnson until 1934.

The dark main building became light and airy under Karoline’s firm direction. Greatly inspired by their travels, she created a welcoming urban home in the country filled with art and gifts from near and far.

The state purchased Aulestad in the 1920s and the house has been open for visitors every summer since 1935.

Coffee is served

Karoline and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson enjoying a cup of coffee in the living room.

Karoline Bjørnson was a townie and did not really want to buy a farm in the country, but she agreed because she knew how much this meant to her husband. She knew nothing about how to run a farm, but she was not scared to learn new things and threw herself into housewifely duties energetically.

Karoline og Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson nyter kaffe i stua.

The Living Room

The dark timber panelled house at Aulestad became light and airy under Karoline’s firm direction. Greatly inspired by their travels, she created a welcoming urban home in the country filled with art and gifts from near and far.

The furniture for the seating area was purchased at a second hand market in Paris. They could not afford to buy anything new. The furniture had loose covers in the colour of the time, burgundy. The furniture of the time had to be bottle green, burgundy or brown. These were colours that gave warmth and atmosphere, something very important in the time of the bourgeoisie. Across the backs of the chairs hung small, white, embroidered pieces of material, so-called antimacassar, to protect against the oil used in men’s hair. 

Norges "hushyggeligste og vakreste hjem", sa Bjørnson selv om hjemmet som Karoline skapte rundt ham og familien. Foto Jan Haug.

På Aulestad pyntes det fremdeles med friske blomster fra hagen.

The Music Room

Edward and Nina Grieg have entertained by singing and playing the piano in the music room.

Bjørnson himself did not play any instruments. But he had an ear for music and was interested in song and music. His poems are known to be easily sung. Poems by Bjørnson have more than 800 melodies, and his songs are today part of our Norwegian cultural heritage.

There are portraits of Ole Bull and Paganini on the walls of the music room including a portrait of Nina and Edvard Grieg by P.S. Krøyer. 

The pigsty

During Bjørnson’s time Aulestad got a smoking room: the pigsty! Anyone wishing to enjoy a pipe or a cigar had to go there. But Alexander Kielland was the exception. “Rather suffer his smoke, than be without his company” Bjørnson said and let Kielland smoke in the living room.

The French painter Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, who visited during the summer of 1901, painted the grandchildren’s cats on the mantelpiece. His and Erik Werenskiold’s pallets are also hanging there.

Aulestads røykelov var klar: Alle som ønsket en pipe eller sigar, måtte gå i Grisehuset.

THE DINING ROOM

The green turquoise colour of the music room was also chosen by Karoline for the dining room, she designed the ceiling herself using skirting from Italian patterns. Here everything was set for parties, with the couple sitting at the end of the table. Today gifts from friends surround the table.

When there were no guests or festivities, the Bjørnson family normally ate what was served in the kitchen. Pancakes were the favourite food.

Til 70-års dagen i 1902, fikk Bjørnson en duk i gave fra svenske kvinnesakskvinner, med takk for hans tro på kvinners utviklingsmuligheter.

Festbordet i spisestua ble gjenskapt da boken om Bjørnsonfamiliens mattradisjoner - "Til bords med Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson" - ble produsert.

Løvepudding med rød saus var en populær dessert for små og store på Aulestad.

The Kitchen

Bjørnson always thanked the cook and the serving girls for good food and service. The large kitchen had modern fittings for its time, including pots and crockery fit for any occasion. The chocolate pot for the children for 17 May held 50 litres, and the coffee pot size was varied depending on the number of guests.

Many meals might be served during a day. Firstly breakfast. Followed by a light meal, lunch, afternoon coffee with titbits and supper. Simple, solid and good food was served daily. The family adapted to the food and eating habits of the place, in consideration of the people working there. Watery gruel was served daily as well as flat bread and cured ham.

Kjøkkenet på Aulestad var et stort, typisk landsens kjøkken med spisebord og benker. Foto Jan Haug

De store kjelene forteller at det var mange munner å mette på Aulestad.

Husketavle for innkjøp av råvarer. 

THE STUDY

Bjørnson chose the largest room on the 1st floor as his study. The windows had views of the farm and the valley. Here the writer and politician was inspired to write poems and documents. 

You might also notice there is a large amount of space diagonally across the room. This was due to the poet’s habit of working. Bjørnson felt he could think better when he was walking, whether he was working on a new set of poems, a speech to be prepared or something else that was on his mind.

Arbeidsværelset -  åndens og håndens virkefelt

På veggen henger Chr. M. Ross' store pastell av Karoline sammen med bilder fra kunstmappen Bjørnson fikk av norske kunstnere til sin 70-årsdag i 1902. 

THE GUEST ROOM

Friends, artists, politicians and scientists were invited to Aulestad. Some guests stayed for a day or two while others could stay for longer periods at a time. Uninvited guests also appeared, just to meet Bjørnson, to give thanks  for a good deed or just to be close to him. 

"Norges billigste og beste sommerpensjonat" kalte Ann Margret Holmgren Aulestad, hun besøkte familien 32 somre! 

I det gule gjesteværelset fikk husets gjester frokost på senga!

KAROLINE’S WORK ROOM

Karoline had many tasks and duties at Aulestad. She was a workhorse. She says herself that sometimes she could remain quite still due to tiredness, but then remember what her old grandmother had taught her: “Whatever you dread - do it quickly and well”, and got going with renewed energy.

In addition to running the house, the farm and the household economy, she wrote out manuscripts and newspaper articles up to 5 or 6 times before Bjørnson was satisfied. 

Karoline never meddled in his work, but Bjørnson tells that he noticed if there was something she did not like. A couple of days might pass before he said: “I noticed that you did not quite like the last part you wrote out, Karoline, and you were right; I have now reworked it, and I think you will be more satisfied.”

Karoline had photos of family members hanging on the wall next to her desk. “The family wall" she called it. She had to find room for five generations as time passed. Karoline lived to a great old age. She survived Bjørnson by 24 years, and died at Aulestad on 27 June 1934, almost 99 years old.

(Source: In the house of Bjørnstjerne. Jakob Ågotnes)

På veggen ved siden av skrivepulten sin hengte Karoline fotografier av familiemedlemmene. "Familieveggen" kalte hun den. Etter hvert måtte hun finne plass til fem generasjoner.