Norway has an interesting and very varied art scene, and although Oslo and Bergen are the hubs for Norwegian art, there are many great galleries scattered throughout the country. It’s also home to one of the world’s most famous paintings, The Scream by Edvard Munch, which has inspired art across the world. Read on to discover the top art galleries to visit here.
No guide to Norway’s top art galleries would be complete without the National Gallery in Oslo, where you’ll also find many other great art galleries. The National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. It gives a great insight into Norwegian art history and houses one version of Munch’s The Scream (full disclosure: he made a few different versions; you’ll find another at the Munch Museum). You can try out your own art skills in the drawing room, where sketchpads are at the ready. The museum is free on Thursdays, so there is no excuse not to go.
Northern Norway’s Art Museum in Tromsø presents Norwegian and international art from the 17th century to the present day, and focusses on the art of northern Norway. There are over 2,100 pieces in the permanent collection and there is always a thought-provoking new exhibition to explore. The museum will give you a unique insight into the people and culture of northern Norway.
KODE actually combines seven museum buildings and five museums to create one of Scandinavia’s largest museums for art, historical objects and concerts. Four of the buildings are in Bergen city centre and are named KODE 1, 2, 3 and 4; the last three are based in the former homes of the composers Ole Bull, Harald Sæverud and Edvard Grieg. All together the museum has almost 50,000 varied objects including paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, musical instruments, furniture and works of fine art and design.
Edvard Munch is Norway’s most famous painter and his work is internationally renowned. The Munch Museum in Oslo is a must-see if you’re a fan of expressionism and symbolism. It is home to some of his most enthralling art and gives the most comprehensive insight into the soulful mind of the artist. The museum was opened in May 1963, 100 years after the artist’s birth. Munch had an important part to play in setting the museum in motion, having raised the idea of a Munch museum with the director of the National Gallery, and donating a significant amount of his art to the city of Oslo when he died.
The Stavanger Art Museum today houses more than 2,600 pieces of art, but it had humble beginnings. The collection was created in 1865 by Stavanger’s local art society, with the aim of establishing an art collection and igniting a love of art in people. Today, the museum houses Norway’s largest Lars Hertervig collection and an increasing number of paintings by Kitty Kielland, the daughter of Jens Z Kielland, the first chairman of the original art society. The works of art and the building itself are both magnificent and definitely worth spending an afternoon on.
The first gallery of its kind in Norway, Galleri F 15 in Moss has been at the forefront of contemporary art since its opening in 1966. The gallery aims to show the work that contemporary artists are doing in order to try to explain the world we live in. The gallery focuses on young artists who have chosen painting as their medium, and has an equal balance between Norwegian and international work. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy in this gallery.
Trondheim Art Museum has been an important part of the town’s identity since its beginnings in 1867. The collection today consists of about 5,000 artworks, which reflect the political and cultural climate of the past 150 years. The collection is mainly focused on Norwegian visual art from the 19th century until today, but also includes large collections of international art and 20th-century Danish art. Trondheim Art Museum has been instrumental in generating interest in visual art, both in Norway and abroad.
In 2012 the Astrup Fearnley Museum moved to a new building designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano at the tip of Aker Brygge in Oslo. It houses the Astrup Fearnley Collection, which includes works by artists such as Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer and Jeff Koons, making it one of Norway’s most important and extensive private collections of contemporary art. The museum also has many temporary exhibitions showcasing contemporary art from across the world, from paintings to manga.
Drammen Museum consists of the former Drammen Museum, Drammen Art Society, Gulskogen Farm Foundation and the Thaulow collection of art and curiosities, as well as the Austad farm and the open-air museum, so it has plenty to offer. The main museum is located in the historic Marienlyst Estate in Drammen, but the museum buildings and parks are scattered across the city. Drammen Museum is home to a broad cultural history of material objects, buildings and art from ancient and modern times and is perfect for exploring multiple aspects of Norwegian culture.
There is always something new to experience at Bergen Kunsthall. The art museum houses a continually changing series of exhibitions, including both large solo installations and extensive group exhibitions. The museum collaborates with national and international artists, institutions and galleries, and features some of the most relevant artists of our times.