The long-awaited National Museum of Oslo finally opens its doors – ARTnews.com
In the center of Oslo, near the harbor and next to the Nobel Peace Center, stands a huge slate building that has caused controversy since its construction in the last decade. On the site where one of the city’s main train stations stood until 1989, this imposing gray monolith, devoid of windows, led some residents to believe that a prison or a hospital was being erected.
But once this new building, designed by German firm Kleihues + Schuwerk, opens June 11 as Norway’s Nasjonalmuseet, the 584,480-square-foot institution will become one of Norway’s largest art museums. Europe in size, surpassed only by the Louvre. in Paris and the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. One million visitors are expected in its first year.
Oslo has certainly taken its time to materialize this project, which has been under construction since the 1990s, when the Norwegian Ministry of Culture merged four existing institutions – the National Gallery, the Museum of Architecture, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art – to create the new Nasjonalmuseet. (Five, if you include the Riksutstillinger, a buildingless organization that has been producing traveling exhibits since 1952.)
“We couldn’t have asked for a better location,” said Karin Hindsbo, director of the Nasjonalmuseet since 2017, in a recent interview. “Looking back, I realize how fortunate it was that there was no question of whether or not we should house all the facilities in one building. Storage and collection management could have been placed elsewhere with a much cheaper rate.
A budget of $645 million has been invested in this colossal undertaking, and the government will continue to fund 90% of its operating budget, with the rest coming from ticket and retail sales, sponsorships and donations, and private events. Of the 400,000 objects, in the form of paintings, sculptures, textiles, furniture and architectural models, amassed since the mid-19th century, some 6,500 will be displayed on two floors in 87 galleries that will allow conversations between these new joint collections. (The top floor of the museum is reserved for temporary exhibitions.)
With 140,000 sq. national prides. , such as a room dedicated to the Edvard Munch Room, which will show the museum’s most famous work, his 1893 painted version of The Scream alongside other well-known pieces by him such as Madonna and Puberty (both from 1894 to 1895). In addition, other monographic spaces are dedicated to major Norwegian artists from different eras, such as the romantic landscape painter Johan Christian Dahl (1788–1857); Harriet Backer (1845-1932), who will also be the subject of a retrospective at the museum in 2023 which will then go to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris; and the architect Sverre Fehn (1924–2009), whose pavilion for the 1963 Venice Biennale was partly recreated.
Following a chronology, the galleries of the museum’s permanent collection include thematic groupings for each period that have been carefully composed by the curators of the Nasjonalmuseet through a collaborative process.
“It’s the Norwegian way!” joked Hindsbo of the collaborative process to create the new permanent exhibits. “We tried to be as democratic as possible, asking curators, educators, project managers, communications officers from all 15 teams to consider what should be displayed in each room and how. It certainly took longer, but the display would not have been so layered if we had given responsibility to one department.”
While the years 1100 to 1530 were all about ‘Serving Faith’, they were followed, according to conservatives, by a century of the ‘Gutenberg effect’, which lasted until 1630. The groupings in ‘Serving Faith’ show especially how valuable the museum’s collection really are. Highlights come in the form of icons of King David and Prophet Hesekiel from St. Nicholas Church in Gostinopl’e Monastery on the Volkhov River in Russia which were sold by the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution . Elsewhere is the Baldishol Tapestry, one of the few surviving woven textiles from 1200 in Europe, which was found in the 17th century Baldishol Church in Hedmark. Depicting the months of April and May, the tapestry is a fragment of a larger work that would have depicted the twelve months of the year.
One floor higher, the second floor traces the history of painting through six centuries, starting with a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. To get there, visitors climb a gray staircase framed by Sol LeWitt’s Wall drawing (#839), originally created in 1988 for the headquarters of financial services company Storebrand and rebuilt last year by the LeWitt Collection. At the top of the stairs, they can go to one of the two wings: the right one spans from 1500 to 1900 (with works by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Titian, Paul Bril, Artemisia Gentileschi, etc. ), while the one on the left covers 1900 to 1960 (featuring works by Rodin and Picasso, alongside local legends like Harald Sohlberg and Gustav Vigeland).
The big news here is that contemporary art has finally found its place in the museum’s permanent collections. Pile o’Sapmi by Máret Ánne Sara, who is one of the three Sámi artists who took over the Nordic pavilion of the Venice Biennale this year, is a good example. This curtain of 400 reindeer skulls, each with a hole in the forehead, was first shown at Documenta 14 in 2017 as a symbol of the forced slaughter of Sami reindeer herds under ever-changing government quotas. It is now the first room that the public will come across on their right when entering the building.
A room of works belonging to sisters Cecilie Fredriksen and Kathrine Fredriksen, which appear on ART newsThe list of the 200 best collectors of , and presented here as part of a partnership with their family collection is also in the spotlight, with pieces by Simone Leigh, Sheila Hicks, Louise Bourgeois, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Eva Hesse , Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Carmen Herrera, Alice Neel and many more all share the space.
The museum’s interior design, by Florentine firm Guicciardini & Magni Architetti, revolves entirely around the public. Every detail has been thought out to make their visit more comfortable. The wall texts do not include academic or esoteric terms, and the art historical emphasis on movements ending in “-ism” has been avoided wherever possible.
In front of a room with pieces by Monet, Morisot, Renoir, etc., the introductory text explains that in these works “the framing of the gaze and the pictorial technique reinforce the impression of casualness and spontaneity. The phenomenon acquires the name of impressionism. The same goes for another artistic trend: “Faces with green skin and yellow noses. The European art world is challenged by painters who upset traditions. Is their purpose to provoke or to express an emotion? The phenomenon is called expressionism.
Multimedia plays a big role in display. In each room, an interactive bench hides a surprise device or toy: speakers, Braille tablets, construction games for children, touch screens. Interactivity is key, right up to the inaugural “I Call It Art” exhibition, which features more than 150 artists, seven of whom were chosen via Curatron, an algorithm developed by Cameron McLeod, which allowed artists to submit work through an open call process and to select other artists with whom they would like to be exhibited. Their work is presented in a hall of the temporary exhibition space, called Light Hall, and includes pieces by Siv Vatne, Markus Li Stensrud, André Tehrani, Johanne Hestvold, Martin Sæther, Linda Lerseth, Melanie Kitti.
The rest of the exhibition, which occupies the top floor, features Norway-based artists and collectives selected by the museum’s curators, such as Borgny Svalastog, Marthe Minde and Ingunn Utsi, all of whom have recently been added to the permanent collection. .
“This fair was an opportunity for us to make new acquisitions,” said Hindsbo, who wanted to mount an exhibition – and by extension enrich the collection – that would spark debates about identity, belonging, nationality, democracy, exclusion from society and even the artistic world. One of the first questions she and her team asked themselves while preparing for the show was “Why do some talents pass us by? How can we miss some who deserve to be in the spotlight?
This temporary exhibition would not be quite what it is without the participation of the public. In accordance with the NABC (Needs, Approach, Benefits, Competition) approach developed by Stanford University, a group of young people aged 19 to 25 were asked about what they expected from the exhibition and what they thought about the exhibition design and texts and the museum’s social media strategy and programming.
The new Nasjonalmuseet will continue to use this method for its future exhibitions, including those dedicated to the British icon Grayson Perry, which will open in November, and to the French-American sculptor Louise Bourgeois and Anna-Eva Bergman, Norwegian illustrator who will is set to abstract painting in the 1940s, both coming in 2023.
“I can say it now because there’s nothing we can do about it: what’s done is done,” Hindsbo added. “So much investment in culture is now concentrated in the very center of Oslo: our museum, with the opera house and the library. If you see how fast the world is changing, I’m not sure it would be possible now in 2022 to start all over again, not under such wonderful conditions.