A New Home for the World’s Art Powerhouse

Over the last three centuries, Norway’s art has consistently outweighed its size. Now, a new national museum has opened to house the collection…


Moving from four premises spread across town (art was housed near the parliament), Norway’s national collection of art and artefacts have been consolidated in a new, vast complex on Aker Brygge. The new, sustainable building also includes a library and spaces for temporary exhibitions on the top floor. From the outside, the building appears windowless, but small external courtyards (filled with statues) are visible from the inside. Opinion on the new addition to Oslo’s skyline has been divided, but curator Karin Hindsbo says visitor numbers been strong since opening at the start of June, and the population are glad to have a larger home for their vast hoards.


The museum shows Norwegian and foreign art together, with dedicated rooms for artists such as Edvard Munch, Harriet Backer and Johan Christian Dahl. Two works of Dahl’s ‘romantic nationalist’ age toured Norway between the move, exhibited in a school, a prison, and a restaurant located on the site of the study, where customers could look out on the landscape depicted. “Dahl was the founding father of Norwegian art,” says Hindsbo, though she admits the term may be outdated. She goes on to explain that fashion and objects of Norwegian everyday life (‘the ordinary made extraordinary’) form part of interactive displays, while works from the turn of the century, and up to the 1930s, are shown together. Munch’s self-portrait looks onto a Scream that’s deliberately not given pride of place, encouraging acceptance of his overall œuvre.

This article has also been published in Nordic Style Magazine.

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