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Top 17 art museums

Let Audun Eckhoff, one of Norway's leading connoisseurs, guide you through a selection of the most important art museums in Norway.

Ever since the Viking Period, Norway has given the world art and architecture, ranging from wooden stave churches to the expressionist paintings of Edvard Munch. Today, you can visit exquisite fine art museums all over the country.

For eight years, Audun Eckhoff was the director of Norway’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, a museum that conveys the country’s most extensive collections of art, architecture, and design in several venues. Eckhoff has a long career in the arts, earlier as director for the Bergen Art Museum and curator at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Oslo. Here, he guides you through 17 of Norway’s best museums for traditional and contemporary art.

Norway’s largest collection of fine arts

National Museum
Address: Brynjulf Bulls plass 3, Oslo

Educate yourself on Norwegian and international art through Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures from antiquity to 1950. The National Museum in Oslo has temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent collection. Some of the highlights includes several of Edvard Munch’s most important paintings, like iconic versions of “Scream” and “Madonna”, as well as Tidemand and Gude’s “Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord” and Harald Sohlberg’s “Winter Night in the Mountains”. International works of art includes paintings by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet.

The idea as the basis of all architecture

National Museum – Architecture
​Address: Bankplassen 3, Oslo

Lovers of architecture can explore both contemporary architecture and historical themes in a building that juxtaposes classicism and modernist architecture. With important architects like Christian Heinrich Grosch, Bjercke and Eliassen, Sverre Fehn, Arne Korsmo, Steven Holl and Snøhetta, the permanent exhibition in Nasjonalmuseet – Arkitektur focuses on the idea as the core of all architecture. The museum shop offers literature on architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design, as well as gift items. In Grosch Bistro you can enjoy tasty dishes based on seasonal ingredients in architectural surroundings, or you can head outside to the Bankplassen square and have a cold beer and a meal in one of several cafes or restaurants, surrounded by architecture from the 1800s and 1900s.

Early expressionism on the east side

​Address: Edvard Munchs Plass 1, Oslo

MUNCH in Oslo manages the great collection of Edvard Munch’s paintings, drawings, prints, and other material the artist left to the municipality of Oslo after his death. Here, you get to see famous motifs like “The Scream”, “Madonna”, “Vampire”, and “Anxiety”. The museum shows both selected works from the artist and temporary exhibitions of other artists from Munch’s time and up until today, in parallel or in contrast to Munch’s own works.

Read all about the museum here.

Modern art surrounded by glass, steel, and wood

Astrup Fearnley Museet
​Address: Strandpromenaden 2, Oslo

At Tjuvholmen in the centre of Oslo, in a characteristic building designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, you’ll find the Astrup Fearnley Museet, a private museum of contemporary art and one of the most important art institutions in Oslo. Here, you can enjoy temporary exhibitions of Norwegian, European, and American contemporary art, as well as a large collection of Norwegian and foreign art from the 1960s to the present. Amongst the highlights of the museum’s permanent collection is Anselm Kiefer’s “Zweistromland”, a monumental sculpture in which the dark origin of civilization is symbolized by a huge shelf of books in lead, glass, and other materials. The museum is surrounded by a beautiful sculpture park which ends up on a kid-friendly beach. Both the museum shop and the museum bar Vingen is also well worth a visit.

Modernism by the Oslofjord

Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
Address: Sonja Henies vei 31, Høvikodden

The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter at Høvikodden just outside of Oslo was founded in 1968 by figure skating legend and Hollywood actor Sonja Henie and her husband, shipping magnate and art collector Niels Onstad. The museum shows temporary exhibitions of Norwegian and international modernism and contemporary art, and has an extensive music and performance program. In addition, the centre has several permanent collections, amongst them collages and landscape paintings by German Dada artist Kurt Schwitters. The museum is beautifully located by the Oslofjord and is surrounded by a vast sculpture park. When you’ve seen all the art you can digest in a day, why not go for a swim in the fjord, followed by a delicious meal at the renowned restaurant Bølgen & Moi?

Fine art in Olympic surroundings

Lillehammer Art Museum
​Stortorget 2, Lillehammer

Lillehammer Kunstmuseum is housed in a building originally designed by government building architect Erling Viksjø in 1963, but got its modern look from Snøhetta’s distinctive extension from 1994 and Bård Breivik’s new facade from 2016. The museum’s permanent collection comprises Norwegian visual art from the 1800s until today. In a special section you can see a large collection of Jakob Weidemann, central to the development of abstract painting in Norway in the 1960s. The Museum’s temporary exhibition program is devoted to artists from the region and other important Norwegian and international artists. Outside, the Art Garden is a great place to relax in the sun with a book or a picnic lunch.

Eight kilometres of Munch, Kittelsen, and Krohg

The Royal Modum Blaafarveværk
and the Cobalt Mines​
Address: Koboltveien 11, Åmot

In 1773, the Royal Modum Blaafarveværk was established to extract cobalt from the mines at Modum. The cobalt was to be used to make the cobalt blue dye for the world’s porcelain and glass industries. Today, Blaafarveværket consists of eight kilometres of art, culture and nature experiences where you can see temporary exhibitions of Norwegian artists such as Edvard Munch, Harriet Backer, Christian Krohg, and Kjell Nupen. Blaafarveværket has the country’s largest collection of Theodor Kittelsen’s interpretations of witchcraft and nature, in the form of carved furniture, oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. In Nyfossum, a grand building in Empire style, you can enjoy Ida Lorentzen’s pastels. In addition to art, Blaafarveværket offers a subterranean adventure in the cobalt mines, and a lively and popular children’s farm.

Art, craft, and historic buildings

Drammens Museum
​Address: Konnerudgata 7, Drammen

40 minutes from Oslo, Drammens Museum displays a broad cultural history of material objects, buildings and art from ancient and modern times. Explore the collections of Nøstetangen glass, Baroque silver, ceramics from the 1700s, furniture, textiles, interiors, religious art, and folk art, as well as the museum’s permanent art and design collection. In the museum park, you can visit a country villa from the late 1700s, in addition to several timber buildings from Hallingdal and the newer Lyche Pavilion. Here you can study temporary exhibitions of arts and crafts, as well as a permanent exhibition of key Norwegian painters.

Learn the history of photography

Preus Museum
Address: Kommandørkaptein Klincks vei 7, Karljohansvern, Horten

Preus Museum on idyllic Karljohansvern in Horten is a must for photo and history buffs. Here, you can explore the large collection of photographs, photographic equipment and photo books, all wrapped in a building redecorated by architect Sverre Fehn. The museum’s permanent collection shows the technical development from the camera obscura to the current mobile cameras, and the corresponding development of the photograph itself. Renown postmodernist photographers like Thomas Struth and Cindy Sherman are part of the collection. You can also enjoy smaller collections consisting of photographs of Norwegian performance and process art and fashion photography from 1950 until today. Central Norwegian photographers like Anders Beer Wilse, Elisabeth Meyer, Morten Krogvold, Tom Sandberg and Dag Alveng is also represented with significant works.

Andy Warhol meets Edvard Munch

Haugar Vestfold Art Museum
​Address: Gråbrødregaten 17, Tønsberg

Situated in the old Maritime College in Tønsberg city centre and close to the old “Haugating”, Haugar Kunstmuseum is a striking sight. The brick buildings from the early 1900s are designed by architects Bjerke and Eliassen. The facade depicts people mariners might expect to meet on their voyages. The museum’s collection includes the American pop artist Andy Warhol’s series of paintings containing images from Edvard Munch’s best known lithographs, in addition to artwork signed by Peder Balke, Anna-Eva Bergman, Odd Nerdrum, Bjarne Melgaard and several of Kjartan Slettemark’s famous Nixon Visions.

Study the art of Southern Norway

SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum
Address: Skippergata 24B, Kristiansand

In the coastal city of Kristiansand in Southern Norway, the art museum Sørlandets Kunstmuseum shows a number of key Norwegian artists from the 1800s, like Johan Christian Dahl, Frits Thaulow, Christian Krohg, Oda Krohg and Edvard Munch. The museum also displays many artists from the 20th century, some with special attachment to the region, amongst them Leonard Rickhard and Kjell Nupen. The collection shows both scenes from Southern Norway and textiles and craft-based art by artists from the region. After your visit, you should step by the museum café, which claims to have the best coffee in the city.

A cultural MUST

Stavanger Museum of Fine Arts
Address: Henrik Ibsensgate 55, Stavanger

Stavanger Kunstmuseum shows work ranging from paintings from the 1800s to contemporary art. The collection includes more than 70 pieces of Lars Hertervig’s landscape paintings of Norwegian nature, in addition to work by other renown Norwegian artists. The museum, which is part of Museum Stavanger (MUST) also has a large collection of art made by the interwar generation and contains work and archival material by amongst others Arne Ekeland, Reidar Aulie and Alexander Schulz. In addition to this, the museum houses Jan Groth’s collection, which includes Norwegian and international art from the 1960s until today.

The art nouveau town on display

The Art Nouveau Centre & The Art Museum KUBE
Address: Apotekergata 16, Ålesund

Kunstmuseet KUBE in Ålesunddocuments and conveys everything from art and architecture to design and arts and crafts. The museum is situated in an old bank building dating from 1906 and is linked to Jugendstilsenteret. The centre’s permanent collection consists of beautiful objects and art nouveau interiors, mirroring the style in Europe, Norway and Ålesund around year 1900.

Paintings and music in Bergen

KODE Art Museum of Bergen
​Address: Rasmus Meyers allé 3, 7 and 9, Bergen

In Bergen, you can visit the largest art museum outside of Oslo, situated in several buildings throughout the city. KODE is actually one of Scandinavia’s largest museums for art, craft, design and music, and combines art museums and composers’ homes, contemporary art, historical objects, concerts, and parklands. The Rasmus Meyer Collection shows many of Edvard Munch’s major works, amongst them “Evening on Karl Johan Street” and “Woman in Three Stages”. In addition to important Norwegian art, the museum exhibits significant works by Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and many others of the 20th century’s most renowned artists. The Ole Bull Museum Lysøen, Harald Sæverud Museum Siljustøl and Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen are part of KODE and represent a truly distinctive collection of composers’ homes. These museums organize more than 400 concerts annually.

Visual arts challenged

Trondheim Art Museum
Address: Bispegata 7B and Trenerys gate 9, Trondheim

With more than 4,000 works of art, Trondheim Kunstmuseum features the country’s third largest public collection of Norwegian art after 1850. The museum also shows temporary exhibitions that covers the past, near past, and present, and focuses on a wide range of events where the visual arts is challenged and enriched by music, literature, guided tours, and performances. In addition to this, the museum presents exhibitions of work by Norwegian artists Håkon Bleken and Inger Sitter in the building Gråmølna, the museum’s arena for contemporary art.

Treasures from Europe and Japan

Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum
​Address: Munkegata 3–7, Trondheim

Also in Trondheim lies Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, a national museum of decorative arts and design that displays furniture, silver, glass, textiles and ceramics from the 1400s until today. The museum is the only one in Norway with a permanent exhibition of Japanese handicrafts and textiles. With a specially designed interior signed by the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde and the Danish architect Finn Juhl, Nordenfjeldske’s first floor is a mix of art nouveau and Scandinavian design. Hannah Ryggen’s political tapestry, a samurai armour from the Edo period and beautiful Japanese netsuke, in addition to an extensive art nouveau collection, are amongst the thousands of treasures you can see in the museum.

Enjoy the art of Northern Norway

Northern Norway Art Museum
​Address: Sjøgata 1, Tromsø

In Tromsø, you can explore art and crafts with ties to Northern Norway, from the 1800s and up until today. Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum’s permanent collection consists of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, videos, textiles, and handicrafts. Selected works from the collection are on display throughout the museum’s second and third floor, ranging from Romanticism to the present day, with artists Peder Balke, Adelsteen Normann, Sámi artist John Savio, Anna-Eva Bergman, Olav Christopher Jenssen, and David Hockney.

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