Oslo is a city with a rich history in the arts. From traditional Norwegian art to the latest contemporary pieces, there is something for everyone in Oslo’s art galleries and museums. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best modern and contemporary art galleries and museums in Oslo. Whether you are an experienced art lover or just getting started, these venues are sure to impress!
Oslo’s Best Modern Art Museums & Contemporary Galleries
The National Gallery (new)
One of the best art museums in Norway, and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Oslo, is the National Gallery. Founded in 1837, it has been displaying both Norwegian and international art ever since, making it one of the oldest public art museums in the world.
Amongst its many highlights is the Munch room, which as the name suggests, contains a number of works by Edvard Munch – one of Norway’s most famous artists. These pieces date from the 1880s onwards and give a great insight into Munch’s experiments with expressionism and symbolism including The Scream, his most famous piece.
Other Norwegian artists represented at the National Gallery include Johan Christian Dahl, Adolph Tidemand and Christian Krohg – all of whom are important figures in Norwegian art history.
So whether you’re a fan of Munch or simply want to see some great Norwegian art, the National Gallery should definitely be on your list of places to visit.
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
The Astrup Fearnley began as a gallery mainly showing off treasures from a private art collection that dated back to the 1960s. The collection included paintings, sculptures, and more from various artists. The gallery opened in 1993 and has since expanded significantly.
It now includes pieces from all over the world, reflecting the movements and styles seen through the past decades. The museum was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Narud-Stokke-Wiig and is located at the outermost point where the city stretches into the Fjord.
The gallery also has up to seven annual temporary exhibitions, each with different contemporary art styles on display. As a result, the Astrup Fearnley is always keeping up with the latest trends in the art world.
Allow for some time to enjoy the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park (similar to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art) where the experience of art, nature and architecture complement each other.
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter
The Henie Onstad Arts Centre is a must-visit for any art lover visiting Oslo. Founded by the world-famous figure skater Sonja Henie and her husband Niels Onstad in the 1960s, the museum houses more than 4,000 modern and contemporary works by artists such as Picasso and the CoBrA group.
The collection explores both well-known and more obscure genres from the past century, and the museum stays up-to-date with artistic developments.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Henie Onstad Arts Centre puts on well-curated temporary exhibitions and installations ranging from paintings to performances.
The only downside is that it is a little further from the city centre (roughly 20 minutes by bus), but the beautiful location and extensive collection make it worth the trip.
The Munch Museum
Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is best known for his deeply expressionistic paintings, many of which are on display at the Munch Museum in Oslo. The museum owns more than half of Munch’s paintings, as well as most of his other art and many of his letters.
It regularly hosts exhibitions juxtaposing the work of Munch and other modern artists in collaboration with other museums around the world.
In 2019, the museum moved to a new elaborate building next to the Opera House at Bjørvika.
Lillehammer Art Museum
Lillehammer Kunstmuseum is a great place to see Norwegian visual art from the 1800s until today. 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. The museum 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 in 1994 and Bård Breivik’s new facade in 2016.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in Norwegian art or history.
The Preus Museum is a must for photo buffs and history lovers alike. Situated on the idyllic Karljohansvern in Horten, the museum houses a large collection of photographs, photographic equipment and books.
The building itself has been redecorated by renowned architect Sverre Fehn, and the permanent exhibition includes works by acclaimed postmodernist photographers such as Thomas Struth and Cindy Sherman.
In addition, smaller collections consisting of photographs of Norwegian performance and process art, as well as fashion photography from 1950 to the present day are on display. Central Norwegian photographers such as Anders Beer Wilse, Elisabeth Meyer, Morten Krogvold, Tom Sandberg and Dag Alveng are also represented in the collection.
Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply enjoy exploring historical collections, the Preus Museum is definitely worth a visit.
Stavanger Museum of Fine Arts
Stavanger Kunstmuseum is home to a wide range of artwork, spanning from the 1800s to contemporary pieces. The museum’s collection includes over 70 landscape paintings by Lars Hertervig, one of Norway’s most renowned artists. In addition to Hertervig’s work, the museum also features art by the interwar generation, including Reidar Aulie and Alexander Schulz.
The museum is also home to Jan Groth’s collection, which contains Norwegian and international art from the 1960s onward. Whether you’re a fan of Hertervig’s paintings or interested in exploring the work of contemporary artists, Stavanger Kunstmuseum has something for everyone.
Det Internasjonale Barnekunstmuseet – The International Museum of Children’s Art
The International Museum of Children’s Art in Oslo, Norway is a world-renowned institution that houses artworks from children and young adults all over the globe. This museum was established in 1986 by The Foundation of Children’s History, Art, and Culture, and has since become a pioneer in the field of child art.
The museum’s art collection contains pieces from over 180 countries, making it the largest of its kind in the world. The Museum strives to promote the importance of children’s art and culture, both nationally and internationally. Visitors to the museum can expect to see a wide variety of artwork on display, ranging from traditional folk art to modern pieces.
The Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and workshops for children and adults alike. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply curious about the world around you, a visit to the International Museum of Children’s Art is sure to be an enlightening experience.
Map of Oslo Modern Art Museum, Galleries and More
Murals and Outdoor public artworks in Oslo
Not all art is meant to be hung indoors in a gallery. One of the best parts of strolling down the streets of Oslo is seeing the enormous murals and graffiti walls that decorate parts of the city, often filling entire walls with color and life. Get your shoes and see this clickable map of Urban Street Art in Oslo, the city staff have mapped out some of the highlights.
Oslo is also famous for its sculpture parks and public art. Don’t miss this six-meter tall, bright red cast iron Santa with a “Christmas tree” (that does not look like a tree to us) at Konows gate ( Kongsveien / Oslogate ) by Paul McCarthy.
The colorful princess’ rainbow at The Palace Park by Emilie Forsmo Bratberg and Kaisa Øksdahl.
Vigeland Park in Oslo is another art destination you should visit, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Norway. Featuring more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron by acclaimed Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, it is the largest sculpture park by a single artist in the world. The sculptures represent the cycle of human life and all its emotions.
Featured photo credit: Munchmuseet Photo by: Einar Aslaksen/ MUNCH
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