The National Museum’s exhibition programme

From Frida Kahlo to Wenche Selmer, from Scandinavian Design to queer culture, from fairy tales to Gothic modernism, from wool to musical instruments, from Grayson Perry to Anna-Eva Bergman. The National Museum will offer a broad range of experiences!

In 2022 and the years to come, our varied programme will cover older and contemporary art, architecture and design. International names such as Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko, Laure Prouvost, Louise Bourgeois and Grayson Perry, and Norwegian artists and architects such as Anna-Eva Bergman, A K Dolven and Wenche Selmer are just a few of the treats we have in store.

Programme spring and summer 2022

Scandinavian Design and the USA 1890–1980

18 March – 7 August 2022

In March, an interdisciplinary design exhibition opens in the National Museum – Architecture where visitors can explore almost a hundred years’ worth of industrial design, toys, graphic design, textiles, fashion and furniture that has come about as the result of travel and encounters between Scandinavia and the USA. The exhibition looks at the great emigration to the USA from Norway and neighbouring countries at the end of the 19th century and the invention of the term “Scandinavian Design” in the 1950s.

Scandinavian Design and the USA 1890–1980 is a co-production between, and will tour to, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, and the National Museum.

William Knutzen (designer), Arnold Wiigs fabrikker (producer), Eva Haase (assistent), Bowl, 1951.
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Anne Hansteen

Queer Culture Year 2022

In 2022, it will be 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in Norway. To celebrate this milestone, the National Museum, the National Library of Norway and the Norwegian archive for queer history have come together to launch a national initiative that will highlight and debate queer art, culture and history. Throughout the anniversary year, activities, exhibitions and events that delve into queer art and culture will take place across Norway.
The National Museum’s contributions to the programme will include the seven-part podcast “Brytning”, with the first episode scheduled for release on 7 March. There will be queer tours of the Collection Exhibition, a drag story-hour for families with children, club nights and performances.

Queer Culture Year 2022. Illustration: Metric

The collection

Opens 11 june 2022

The new National Museum’s Collection Exhibition shows the main lines in the historical development of fine art, design and crafts in Norway, together with notable works in the collection by international artists. Spread across 87 rooms on two floors, the exhibition covers three millennia, from antiquity to the present. Here, dialogue is created between different parts of the collection, both within historical periods and between them. Some 6,500 works are on display, ranging from the medieval Baldishol tapestry to Tonje Plur’s contemporary fashion, from the paintings of Harriet Backer, Edvard Munch and Harald Sohlberg to Hannah Ryggen’s textiles, from royal gala dresses to toothbrushes and ceramic pots.
The Collection Exhibition uses a variety of presentational media, including video, audio and learning stations for children.

I Call It Art

11 June 2022 – 11 september 2022

The Light Hall, the vast exhibition space at the top of the new museum, opens with an exhibition featuring 147 artists and artist groups currently working in Norway. With works that address themes such as identity, belonging, nationality and democracy, I Call It Art is designed to stimulate debate about inclusion in, and exclusion from, art and society.
The exhibition will fill the Light Hall in its entirety with works that use widely different formats, materials and art forms. In the search for new art, the National Museum’s curators have scoured the country from end to end. In addition, the museum has received contributions by over 1,000 artists through an open submissions process. The one thing all the artists have in common is that none had a work in the National Museum’s collection at the time of selection.
There will also be a programme of videos, performances and other events running throughout the exhibition period.

Read more about I Call It Art here 

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Theodor Kittelsen, "Forest Troll", 1906.
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Jacques Lathion

11 June 2022 – 30 December 2022

This exhibition, the first in the National Museum’s exhibition space for prints and drawings, will present a selection of drawings made almost 150 years ago to illustrate Norwegian folk tales. Highly sensitive to light, these works are rarely displayed. This is therefore a unique opportunity to see Erik Werenskiold’s and Theodor Kittelsen’s original drawings of trolls and other famous fairy tale characters.

The Fredriksen Family Collection

Opens 11 june 2022

One room in the new National Museum is devoted to pioneering, international works of art from the past 90 years. Abstract expressionism, minimalism and figurative painting charged with political awareness are some of the genres on display here. The Fredriksen Family Collection consists of works collected by Kathrine and Cecilie Fredriksen in memory of their mother, Inger Astrup Fredriksen. It is a collection in progress, to which new works are constantly being added.
The Fredriksen Family Collection is an important supplement to museum collections in Norway and the rest of the Nordic region. In the context of the National Museum, these works allow us to expand the narrative, with forms of expression, positions and geographies that are still unrepresented in the museum’s own collection.

Programme autumn 2022

Piranesi and the Modern

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, "The Lion Bas Reliefs", plate done between 1749 and 1761, printed before 1778
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

8 September – 8 January 2022

The Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) is best known for his etchings of urban panoramas, buildings and prison scenes. Piranesi’s visions have been a major influence on modern photography, film, painting, literature and architecture. The exhibition Piranesi and the Modern shows these connections by presenting Piranesi’s prints from the 18th century alongside works by artists and architects such as Julie Mehretu and Rem Koolhaas , and films such as Metropolis and Star Wars.

Oslo Architecture Triennale

21 September 2022 – 29 January 2023

The theme of the 2022 edition of the Oslo Architecture Triennale is “Mission Neighbourhood – (Re)forming Communities”. The National Museum’s contribution to the triennale addresses community and exclusion. The exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture looks at examples from the past 70 years of how concepts of community have shaped architecture and urban development.

As part of the exhibition, the National Museum has invited the Swedish architectural collective MYCKET to create a site-specific installation that will inhabit and transform parts of the museum building at Bankplassen. Based on personal experiences and research into queer spaces and the architecture of queer nightclubs, over the past decade the group has created playful and performative works and club concepts using what they call a “queer-dyke-maximalist” aesthetic.

The exhibition is part of Queer Culture Year 2022.

MYCKET, installation photo from La Capella, Barcelona, 2018.
Photo: Pep Herrero

International Library of Fashion Research

Library of Fashion Research at Mellomstasjonen
Photo: Einar Fuglem

Opens September 2022

In September, the International Library of Fashion Research (ILFR) will open in specially designed rooms in “Mellomstasjonen”, in front of the National Museum. The ILFR is a specialised fashion library with over 5,000 books, magazines, catalogues and other items. Run by curator and editor Elise By Olsen, it is an independent body that collaborates with the National Museum. In addition to the collection, the fashion library organises a broad educational programme and professional activities.

The Fredriksen Family Commission. Laure Prouvost

3 november 2022 – 12 february 2023

The Fredriksen Family Commission is an exhibition series that invites established, international artists to create a work or an installation especially for the Light Hall and to explore the possibilities of this unique space. In the Fredriksen Family Commission, the National Museum will offer powerful art experiences with international artists who have previously had little exposure in the Nordic region. The exhibitions will take place every two years.

The series kicks off with the French artist Laure Prouvost, one of the most prominent names of her generation. Prouvost is especially known for her fantastical immersive installations that combine sculptures, objects and videos. Blending personal memories with artistic and literary references, many of her works are characterised by an absurd humour.

Ariplane with a teapot on the tail
Laure Prouvost, "Airplane teapot chandelier", 2019. (Murano glass, 30 x 108 x 112 cm approx.11 3/4 x 42 1/2 x 44 in approx.) © Laure Prouvost; Courtesy of Lisson Gallery

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry, "Selfie with Political Causes", 2018. Woodblock print. Edition of 15 plus 2 artist's proofs (#7/15) © Grayson Perry. Courtesy the artist, Paragon Press and Victoria Miro.

10 november 2022 – 26 march 2023

With works that address identity, gender, class and British culture, Grayson Perry has become one of the most celebrated artists in the UK and internationally. The exhibition in the Light Hall will be the first solo presentation of Perry's work in Norway and will showcase the full breadth of the artist’s practice spanning ceramics, tapestries, sculptures and prints from the 1980s to the present day.

Selected exhibitions coming in 2023

Carroll Dunham

Spring 2023

The second event in the National Museum’s new space for special exhibitions of prints and drawings will feature the American artist Carroll Dunham. Dunham is known internationally for his often brutally direct paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings in a simplified idiom. The show at the National Museum is the first museum presentation of Dunham’s prints in Scandinavia.

Carroll Dunham, «Untitled, June 27, 2019», 2019.
Photo: Two Palms, NY og Gerhardsen Gerner, Oslo

Music and Art

Spring 2023

With art, architecture, design and crafts all under one roof, the National Museum is ideally placed to produce interdisciplinary exhibitions. In the spring of 2023, rare string instruments will be shown together with works from the National Museum’s collection in an exhibition that places music centre stage. The instruments are provided by Dextra Musica, a collection of string instruments that are lent to performers in Norway. This will be an opportunity to discover the uniqueness and design of these objects, and to present art and music in harmony. The exhibition will be supplemented by a programme of both classical and cross-genre concerts.

The Hand and the Machine

Søstra100,Mira Hahn,Stina Molander Skavlan,"Krav om plass til andre aktiviteter i stua, enn å spise og slappe av på sofaen",2020

Spring 2023

This exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture focuses on architectural drawing as a means to explore trends in contemporary architecture. After the financial crisis of 2008, a global architecture characterised by digital aesthetics gave way to a new generation of architects working on smaller scales, more locally, collectively and non-commercially. The exhibition will show the work of both Norwegian and international architectural firms that have been at the forefront of this trend over the past decade.

Thorvald Hellesen

Thorvald Hellesen, "Composition", ca. 1920
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

Spring 2023

In spring 2023, the National Museum will present the first major exhibition of works by Thorvald Hellesen (1888–1937), an artist who is regarded as Norway’s first cubist. Hellesen lived much of his adult life in Paris, where he became part of the cubist group La Section d’Or. He was a friend and colleague of artists such as Fernand Léger, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and Francis Picabia. Whereas his associates found places in the pantheon of cubist pioneers, Hellesen’s achievements fell into obscurity, both inside and outside Norway. With this exhibition, the National Museum resurrects Hellesen with a broad selection of works from his short but intense life.

Louise Bourgeois

Spring 2023

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) is one of the great names of 20th century art. In this exhibition in the Light Hall, Bourgeois’s work will be placed in dialogue with other artists, both historical and contemporary. Her conversation partners will include artists such as Ana Mendieta, Wilfredo Lam and Louise Nevelson. With over 100 works from every phase of Bourgeois’s career, the exhibition will situate her as a focal figure of modern and contemporary art. The exhibition is made in collaboration with The Easton Foundation.

Louise Bourgeois, «PRECIOUS LIQUIDS» (interior detail), 1992. © Easton Foundation
Photo: Collection Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Formafantasma – on wool

This interdisciplinary, research-based design exhibition featuring the Italian designer duo Formafantasma will explore the materiality of wool and its economic, cultural, social and biological aspects. The exhibition will focus not just on the design object, but also on the concept of design in a broader perspective: What exactly is a design exhibition and what kind of role does design play in society? Drawing on both local and international research, the project will offer new insights into materials, production methods and the environment.

The italian designerduo Formafantasma.
Photo: Renee de Groot

Queering folk costumes

In collaboration with Valdres Museum, the National Museum is launching a touring research and exhibition project that looks at the traditions of folk costumes from a norm-critical perspective. The project will bring contemporary artists together with traditional craftspeople. The first exhibition of the tour will open in May 2023. Other partners include Randsfjord Museum, Bodø European Capital of Culture 2024, and the Norwegian Institute for National Costumes and Folk Costumes. The project is a continuations of Queer Culture Year 2022.

Lars Korff Lofthus, Folk costume edited, 2017/2022. Photo in collaboration with Bent René Synnevåg

Anna-Eva Bergman

Anna-Eva Bergman (1909–1975) lived much of her life in France, but drew inspiration for her monumental paintings from Norwegian nature. In autumn 2023, the National Museum will present a major exhibition in the Light Hall that explores the various phases of Bergman’s art, with special emphasis on her paintings. The exhibition will also be shown at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, with further destinations in Europe currently in planning.

Anna-Eva Bergman, "Nr. 3-1957 Wall", 1957. © Bergman, Anna-Eva/BONO
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

From Bruegel to Rubens

Jan Brueghel, «Dorpelingen op weg naar de markt». © Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

In summer 2023, the National Museum in collaboration with the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels will show an exhibition with drawings by revered Dutch and Flemish artists such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens. This will be an opportunity to see rarely exhibited works from the period 1550–1640. Drawings like these allow the viewer to get up close to the artist’s hand, providing insights into how the old masters worked. After the National Museum, From Bruegel to Rubens will also be shown in Paris and Brussels.

Harriet Backer

Harriet Backer (1845–1932) was one of Norway’s most pioneering and prominent painters of the 19th century. It is high time her art was introduced to a broader audience. To this end, the National Museum is collaborating with KODE Art Museums, Bergen, on an exhibition of Backer’s work that will tour internationally to Stockholm, Paris, Oslo and Bergen.

The first large-scale exhibition devoted to Backer in 25 years, this show will highlight what was innovative about her art and take a closer look at her central role in Norwegian cultural life. The exhibition opens in the Light Hall in 2023, before moving on to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, before concluding at KODE, Bergen, in 2025.

inside of a church
Harriet Backer, Christening in Tanum Church, 1892
Photo: Nasjonalmusset / Børre Høstland

Selected exhibitions coming in 2024

Dragons and logs. Architecture around 1900

Many ideas about “Norwegian” architecture that are still in use today arose around 1900. This research-based exhibition will address architectural culture in Norway and especially in Kristiania (Oslo) during this period. The exhibition will also show that there were many more active women architects than has often been assumed around the turn of the last century.

Hjørdis Grøntoft Raknerud, Detail of a portal at Ål chruch in Hallingdal, 1898.
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Morten Thorkildsen

Britta Marakatt-Labba

Since the 1970s, Britta Marakatt-Labba has been embroidering tales of Sami history and culture in epic textile works. The exhibition in the Light Hall will be a major retrospective of the work of this central artist.

Britta Marakatt-Labba, «Hva var det vi sa», plate done in 2014, printed in 2019. © Marakatt-Labba, Britta/BONO
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Børre Høstland

New Nordic food. Architecture, crafts and place 2004–2024

Odd Standard, stoneware for the restaurant Kontrast in Oslo.
Photo: Lars Petter Pettersen

In 2024 it will be twenty years since a dozen chefs from across the Nordic region signed the manifesto “A New Nordic Cuisine”. The new Nordic food movement created a holistic aesthetic, in which craft, design and architecture all played a part in settings for ritualised meals that reflect time and place. This exhibition will present a historical review of the movement in terms of interiors, design objects, architecture, art – and not least smell and taste.

Mark Rothko

This exhibition marks the first major presentation of American artist Mark Rothko (1903–1970) in the Nordic countries. One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Rothko was central to the development of post-war abstract art. This exhibition will examine approximately 100 paintings on paper made throughout Rothko's career, from figurative works of the 1930s, to mythological and surrealist works of the 1940s, to works from the 1950s and 1960s painted in the artist’s signature format: soft-edged rectangular fields arranged against monochrome backgrounds. Centering these paintings on paper offers a new view of the development of Rothko’s oeuvre. 

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The National Museum will be its only venue in Europe. 

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1969 © 2005 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko Foto: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Frida Kahlo

The unique pictorial language of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) is a source of fascination and wonder. This major presentation of Kahlo’s work will place her paintings and drawings alongside Mesoamerican artefacts, religious paintings, textiles and photographs. Kahlo was politically active and had a deep commitment to her Mexican heritage. The exhibition in the Light Hall in autumn 2024 will emphasise the political and ideological factors behind her artistic choices.

Frida Kahlo.
Photo: Archivo Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, Banco de México, fiduciario en el Fideicomiso Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo.

Else Hagen

Else Hagen, "Prestekrave", 1957. © Hagen, Else/BONO
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet

Else Hagen (1914–2010) was the first female artist in Norway to create monumental public artworks. But long before receiving commissions for works such as the mosaic Samfunn (Society) on the staircase of the Storting, she had already made a name for herself as a painter and graphic artist. Although rough and abstract, her idiom was always centred on humanity. It is this aspect of Hagen’s “modernist figuration” that will form the main emphasis of this exhibition.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Stavanger Art Museum, Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum and the National Museum.

Selected exhibitions coming in 2025

Gothic Modern

The exhibition Gothic Modern will explore the connections between modernism and northern European art from the period between roughly 1480 and 1520. Works by artists such as Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach the Elder will enter into dialogue with modern artists such as Käthe Kollwitz, Edvard Munch and Emil Nolde. Central themes will include faith, desire, the dance of death, pilgrimages and the forces of nature. This is an exhibition that shows modernism from an unusual angle – “Gothic modernism”.

The project is an international research collaboration between Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the National Museum. Professor Juliet Simpson is guest curator. 

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, "Lemminkäinen’s mother", 1897, Ateneum kunstmuseum.
Photo: Finlands Nationalgalleri / Hannu Pakarinen

Queer Islamic Art is a three-year research project that looks at the relationship between Islam and queerness through the lens of contemporary and historical art. Involving artists, poets, activists, architects, filmmakers and scholars, the project will culminate in an exhibition at the National Museum in 2025. Curated by Noor Bhangu, the project is a collaboration with artist Hanan Benammar and Salam Norway – the organisation for queer muslims.

A K Dolven

A K Dolven has been one of Norway’s foremost contemporary artists for four decades. She works in a broad variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, performance, installation, film and sound art, and has exhibited at renowned art institutions and galleries worldwide. In 2025, the National Museum will present a retrospective of A K Dolven’s work in the Light Hall.

A K Dolven, «Amazon» (16mm filmstill), 2005.
Photo: Vegard Moen

Wenche Selmer

The exhibition in the Light Hall will be the first major presentation about Wenche Selmer (1920–1998) in the National Museum. Selmer was an important figure in Norwegian architecture in the post-war years. She contributed to the development of a sober wooden architecture that related to the landscape and vernacular building styles, but also cultivated a dialogue with international architectural circles. As a teacher at the Oslo School of Architecture she influenced several generations of new architects.

Wenche Selmer, Jens Andreas Selmer, Cabin at Beltesholmen, Between 1965 and 1980.
Photo: Jens Andreas Selmer