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Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo.
Photo: Vegard Kleven
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With the exhibition “The Commonly Owned”, the municipality of Oslo assembles some highlights from its vast art collection, consisting of 20 000 works. The overarching theme is the city’s place in art – and art’s place in the city.  

Published: 9 March 2018

It’s easy to forget in the daily grind, but we’re surrounded by art almost anywhere we go, from hospitals, schools and public buildings to parks and other outdoor areas. Oslo, of course, is no exception.  

A large number of these works, ranging from huge art installations and statues to paintings, is owned by the municipality of Oslo, an important supporter of the city’s artists for more than a 100 years.  

This spring, the municipality wants its inhabitants as well as visitors to see some of collection’s highlights with a fresh pair of eyes.

Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo.
Photo: Vegard Kleven

A new perspective on the city 

The exhibition “The Commonly Owned” opened last week at the artist-driven exhibition space Kunstnernes Hus, and it will run until April 29.

As one of the curators at Kunstnernes Hus, Ida Kierulf has been a counselor in the process of assembling the exhibition.

“This comprehensive art collection could have resulted in a number of exhibitions with different themes, but we chose to focus on the importance of art in the development of Oslo as a modern metropol.” 

Kierulf argues that the exhibition not only offers a fresh look on the artworks, but on the ever-changing Norwegian capital as well.

“Oslo is being developed intensively as an international city of culture, with several new cultural buildings emerging by the Oslo harbour front. That makes it interesting to take a closer look at the art treasures that are located throughout our city and greeting us every day – whether we like it or not.”

Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo.
Photo: Vegard Kleven

A great expedition through Oslo’s art

Choosing from as many artworks as 20 000 has obviously been a challenging task for the curators, but the selection was eventually narrowed down to about 60 works.  

“There were a lot of major works in the collection that had to go, and a lot of hidden treasures and curiosities we’d loved to include”, Kierulf explains.   

A number of Norway’s greatest artists are present, however – from iconic Oslo painters Christian and Per Krohg til modern masters such as Odd Nerdrum, Inger Sitter, Jakob Weidemann and Vibeke Tandberg.

Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo.
Photo: Vegard Kleven

Ida Kierulf herself discovered some new favorites through her work with the exhibition. 

“It’s been been one great expedition, with positive surprises around every corner. There are fantastic works by Jakob Weidemann and Håkon Bleken that were new to me, for instance, as well as obscure nuggets such as Reidar Lerdals “The Unemployed”. There are many lucky teachers and nurses out there living with this art every day.”  

Rediscovering the magic we tend to take for granted in the everyday life is one of the main aspect of the exhibition.  

“Hopefully, “The Commonly Owned” will contribute to opening our eyes to the great art located in our city and make us more alert the next time we walk to work or through the park or schoolyard”, Ida Kierulf concludes.


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