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Norway’s New Art Museum Doubles as a Twisting Bridge Above a River

By Terry Ward

Oct 11, 2019

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The Twist Museum sits roughly 43 miles north of Norway’s capital.

Photo by Laurian Ghinitoiu 

The Twist Museum sits roughly 43 miles north of Norway’s capital.

Just north of Oslo, the striking structure designed by the acclaimed Bjarke Ingels Group features works by renowned artists in a spiraling space.

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Visitors to the Norwegian capital have a new reason to venture outside of Oslo in search of art and nature. This September marked the long-awaited opening of the Twist, a striking new art museum that spans the Randselva river, equal parts inhabitable sculpture and innovative exhibition space. 

Designed by the renowned Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)the people behind Copenhagen’s new ski slope built on top of a power plantthe nearly 11,000-square foot structure links two distinct art galleries, serving as a bridge between the river’s north and south banks.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) first proposed its impressive design for the twisting bridge and gallery space in 2011.

Located in the Jevnaker municipality (approximately 43 miles north of Oslo) the building is part of Kistefos—a museum complex at the site of a former pulp mill, now Scandinavia’s largest outdoor sculpture park for modern art. Works by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, Icelandic Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are among over 40 outdoor sculptures that visitors can stroll between in the park, which opened in 1999. The decade-old art complex, also known as Kistefos Sculpture Park, already featured several established components such as the Industrial Museum and Kunsthallen art hall. But it’s the addition of the Twist and its bewilderingly beautiful aesthetics that has drawn all eyes of late.

Construction on the museum began in December 2017. It officially opened to the public on September 18, 2019.

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The building, which cost nearly 200 million Norwegian krone (about US$22 million) to complete, features a light silver, metallic-colored exterior made from a combination of glass and aluminum panels. From the outside, the spiral-like structure resembles a splayed deck of cards. It appears to be curved, but look closely and you’ll see that the undulating construction is actually composed of aligned, stick-like panels—all of them completely straight.

There’s more to the illusion than that, however. When you walk through the gallery’s “twisting” overpass, which spans some 200 feet across the rushing river, it appears as though “wall becomes ceiling becomes floor,” says BIG founding partner, Bjarke Ingels. The resulting design creates a space that can be used simply as a transition between galleries—or as a gallery all its own.

The Twist’s interior walls, floor, and ceiling are made from thin white wood lamellas.

At the museum, two main exhibition spaces on either side of the bridge are referred to as “introverted” and “extroverted” galleries—and when you understand their design, the nicknames makes sense. The “introverted” space is narrow, rectangular, and vertical in scope. Its tall, windowless walls let in no natural daylight, allowing curators to illuminate the exhibitions within as they see fit.

The “extroverted” gallery features panoramic, floor-to-ceiling glass windows that stretch horizontally to take in the surrounding forest and river views, letting in plenty of natural light, even on gray Norwegian days. It’s fascinating to enter the museum on one side of the riverbank and literally bridge the gap between the two galleries as you walk above the pristine river, both protected from the elements and between them.

The BIG-designed building is located within Kistefos, northern Europe’s largest outdoor sculpture park.

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The Twist’s opening exhibition, Hodgkin and Creed - Inside Out, brings works by two British artists— painter Howard Hodgkin (1932–2017) and conceptual artist Martin Creed (born 1968)—together for the first time. Pieces by both artists are hung in the Twist’s opposing rooms to create a sort of dialog between the works—and therefore in the minds of observers, too. 

If you want to see the current exhibition, you’ll have to visit before the Twist ends its 2019 season on November 17. (The museum will reopen to the public in May 2020.) Admission to Kistefos Sculpture Park includes entry to the the Twist and can be purchased at the park entrances. Tickets cost 150 Norwegian krone for adults (about US$17) and 120 NOK for seniors and students (US$13). Entry is free for kids 16 and under.

In the “introverted” gallery space, windowless walls obstruct the entry of natural light, allowing curators to illuminate rotating exhibitions as they see fit.

How to get there

To reach the Twist from Oslo, take advantage of Norway’s excellent public transport system by hopping on a bus or train from Oslo’s Central Station to Hønefoss (75 minutes), followed by a local bus to the stop at Kistefossvegen (15 minutes). From there, you’ll have to walk the last stretch (less than one mile) to reach the museum. It’s worth renting a car to make the trip, however, both to shave a bit of time off the journey—the drive to Jevnaker takes about an hour from downtown Oslo—and also to explore a few other sites in the area. 

In Norway, the woodland municipality of Jevnaker is situated within the southeastern Hadeland district.

What else to see 

With its rolling, forested terrain and a strong agricultural heritage, the southeastern Hadeland district (where Jevnaker is located) has been referred to as “the Tuscany of Norway.”

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Roughly two miles from the Twist, visit the village-like setting of Hadeland Glassverk, Norway’s oldest industrial company. At this Jevnaker establishment, traditional glassblowing methods have been used since 1762. Nearby, the Thorbjørnrud Hotell has an onsite cheese factory that produces a delicious cheddar and blue sheep’s cheese in what was once the swimming pool at the historic Jevnaker hotel, which dates back to 1300s. Today, the property features an excellent onsite restaurant that serves farm-to-table cuisine sourced largely from the hotel farm, which is home to more than 500 animals.

The sight of the Twist from the outside, which is alone worth the journey—can be enjoyed year-round, as the Kistefos Sculpture Park remains open, though you’ll want to be bundled during outdoor strolls. (In Hadeland, high January temperatures tend to stay below the freezing mark.) Still, as the Norwegians say, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. Even in the gray and the fog, the Twist promises to be a sight to behold.

>> Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to Norway

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