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About the National Museum – Architecture

In 1975 the National Association of Norwegian Architects established the Norwegian Museum of Architecture.

In 1998 this museum was transformed into a foundation. Having become part of the National Museum on 1 July 2003, the Museum of Architecture eventually closed the doors of its old exhibition venue in Kongens gate 4 in March 2005. Three years later it was re-launched as the National Museum – Architecture in newly refurbished and extended premises at Bankplassen 3.The architect behind the restyling of the former bank building and the design of the new exhibition pavilion in the garden was Sverre Fehn.

In 2001, the Museum of Architecture had sent a proposal to the Ministry of Culture that the museum should relocate to Bankplassen 3. It was an idea that found wide support in the media, and in April the same year the government gave its approval. Jens Ulltveit-Moe initially pledged 10 million kroner to the project, a sum he later increased to 37.5 million. This was a decisive donation. It was decided that the Ministry of Culture should pay for the refurbishment of the old building, while Ulltveit-Moe’s generous donation should be used to finance Fehn’s exhibition pavilion.

The building’s history

Bankplassen 3 was built in 1830 as a branch office of Norges Bank (at that time, the bank’s headquarters were in Trondheim). The building was designed by Christian Heinrich Grosch, who was responsible for many of the most important public buildings constructed in Christiana (Oslo) after it became the country’s capital in 1814. Bankplassen 3 holds a special place in Norwegian architectural history. When Norges Bank moved to its new home on the other side of the square, a storage space was added and the building became the home of Norway’s National Archives. Before the National Museum – Architecture opened its doors, the building had stood more or less empty for several years.

The National Museum’s arena for architecture

The museum’s exhibition facilities at Bankplassen are a mixture of classical and modernist architecture, a meeting between Sverre Fehn and C.H. Grosch, two of Norway’s most important architects, living and past. As an attraction in its own right, the National Museum – Architecture illustrates the expressive power of architecture.