When travelers think of Norway, perhaps its scenic fjords and powdery ski slopes might first come to mind. But sustainable luxury travel company Up Norway and founder Torunn Tronsvang want to encourage visitors to visit the country’s capital city, Oslo, with arts and culture front of mind. On October 22, the Munch museum, an institution dedicated to Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch (best known for The Scream) opened its doors. Norway’s National Museum, an establishment that will hold the country’s largest collection of art, architecture, and design, is slated to soon follow with a planned 2022 opening. “The eco-friendly building— designed to emit 50 percent less carbon than current standards—is currently open for tours, and will house more than 5,000 works on opening,” per Up Norway. You’ve got our attention.
Munch Museum Bjørvika
The new Munch museum was designed by Madrid-based architecture firm Estudio Herreros—helmed by founder partner Juan Herreros—which also designed the National Museum of China in Shenzhen. The building is clad in shiny, recycled aluminum and enjoys a prime waterfront location in Oslo’s Bjørvika neighborhood. Though the ultra-trendy area is chock-full of glitzy contemporary buildings, it won’t be hard to pick out the museum from Oslo’s skyline—the building towers 188 feet over the shore and features an angular form that bends toward the city’s historical center. Offering more than 26,000 feet of exhibition space over 13 stories, it is the largest museum in the world dedicated to the works of Munch (and five times larger than its predecessor in the Gamle Oslo borough), with over 26,700 paintings and artifacts related to the artist.
The building also offers the panoramic, continental European-style bistro Tolvte on its top floor, as well as multiple spaces for shopping for souvenirs and gathering with friends. The conscious decision to make the Munch more than a museum is inspired by recent trends in the design world to make public spaces dedicated to art and learning more akin to community hubs. Designing the Munch was “a unique opportunity to develop a contemporary concept of a museum with a transcendental urban role and a historic responsibility as a cohesive element of the community,” said Estudio Herreros in a press release.
Thankfully art-loving Oslo residents and visitors won’t have to wait long for another exciting museum opening. After seven years of work and planning, the National Museum recently announced it will open its doors to guests on June 11 of next year. The museum will truly be a colossus of Norwegian art and will combine the collections of the Norwegian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Gallery all under one (very large) roof. Costing more than $723 million to build, the new construction designed by Kleihues + Schuwerk clocks in at about 581,300 square feet with 140,000 square feet of exhibition space. When it opens, the National Museum will be the largest museum in the entire Nordic region.
Much like the Munch, the National Museum is more than just a place to look at art. In addition to its 5,000 pieces of artwork and 90 galleries, it also features multiple cafés, a shop, the largest library dedicated to art in the Nordic region, and an open roof terrace overlooking the harbor. However, the museum’s pièce de résistance may be its Light Hall, a 26,000-square-foot illuminated rooftop space dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
But if you tire of museums on your trip, there are plenty of other things to do in the vicinity. Though it’s now very hip, Oslo’s Bjørvika neighborhood was once considered something of a public eyesore in the 1980s and ’90s. Today, it’s a vibrant, thriving art hub, thanks to an intense urban revitalization program that began in the early 2000s. While in Olso, consider checking out the city’s new award-winning central library Deichman Bjørvika, says Up Norway, which offers a restaurant, a 200-seat cinema, and reading rooms, besides over 450,00 books, all within a sleek, modern building. Coincidentally, Deichman Bjørvika is next door to the curiously iceberg-shaped Oslo Opera House, home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet—the perfect place to end a trip to Oslo while enjoying a world-class show.