The library's collection contains books that are hundreds of years old.
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Frode Larsen

The National Museum’s library is Norway’s leading art library.

The National Museum’s library was established in 2003. It combines book collections from the former Norwegian Museum of Architecture, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Gallery and the National Touring Exhibitions, Norway.

A long history

The oldest part of the collection dates back to the founding of the National gallery's and the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design's libraries – both established in 1882.

From 1904 onwards, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design's library also surved the National College of Art and Design. An important part of the foundation in this collection was the book collection that goldsmith Oluf Tostrup's gave as a testamentary gift to the museum.

From 1882 to 1924, the National Gallery library belonged to the Collection of Engravings and Drawings. This institution had been collecting foreign journals, reproductions, photographs and, in due course, art historical literature since its inception around 1880. In 1924, the National Gallery’s library was designated as a department in its own right.

From the Museum of Contemporary Art, the library acquired a collection of books, exhibition catalogues and journals that focused largely on the period after 1988, when that museum was founded.

In 2011, Henie Onstad Art Centre also transferred its holdings to the National Museum. This collection consisted of more than 30,000 books and catalogues, plus whole series of important periodicals. With its rich supply of literature from the 1960s to the 80s, the Henie Onstad collection helped to fill a substantial gap in the National Museum’s library.

The documentation archive

The National Gallery’s documentation archive was initiated in 1978 to facilitate work on the Norsk kunstlerleksikon (Encyclopedia of Norwegian Artists).

Today, the bulk of the material in the documentation archive is of art-historical relevance relating to the institutions that merged in 2003 to form Stiftelsen Nasjonalmuseet for kunst (the National Museum of Art Foundation): the National Gallery (founded 1837), the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (founded 1876), the Museum of Contemporary Art (founded 1988), the Museum of Architecture (founded 1975) and the National Touring Exhibitions, Norway (founded 1996).