A white facade building with towering silo structures, like a beacon of Nordic modern art, Kunstsilo quietly watches over the Norwegian coastline.

From Mestres Wåge Arkitekter by Alan Williams Photography

On the coast of Kristiansand in southern Norway, on the island of Odderøya, stands a row of white giant silos. This 8,500-square-meter building, named ‘Kunstsilo,’ was once an abandoned grain silo. After eight years of planning and renovation, it has transformed into a modern art museum and has officially opened to the world on May 11, 2024. The echoes of the past grain storage and the silence of the artworks intertwine to create a new chapter in Nordic art.

Grain silo in black camouflage.  Photo form Kunstsilo

Kunstsilo was originally established in 1935 and is a representative building of Norwegian Functionalism. Its stylistic features include a minimalist aesthetic with large surfaces, straight lines, and geometric shapes. For a grain storage warehouse at the time, it was truly avant-garde. However, over time, it gradually lost its purpose, leading to its closure in 2008. The silo then remained silent for six long years.

The silo in October 1936. 
Photo: Statsarkivet / Agderbilder.no

Until 2015, the old grain silo saw its first ray of hope when Nicolai Tangen, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management, announced that he would donate his personal collection to his hometown, Kristiansand. The following year, with sponsorship from the AKO Foundation, the Sørlandets Kunstmuseum obtained the permanent rights to use the collection.

Photo from Kunstsilo site.

When I was 14, I never thought about owning a museum. At that time, I didn’t know what a museum could bring to life. However, after living in other countries for a long time, I saw what it was like and how it enriched our lives.

Nicolai Tangen.

 

Largest Nordic art museum in the world.

Designed by the joint efforts of Mestres Wåge Arquitectes , BAX Studio and Mendoza Partida from Barcelona and Oslo, the new Kunstsilo is arguably the largest Nordic art museum in the world. The designers extensively used glass on the sides, allowing the building to breathe like the wind. Light diffuses through the glass, creating a comfortable and bright indoor environment.

Photo from Kunstsilo site.

Situated on the Odderøya peninsula in Norway’s sixth-largest city, Kunstsilo occupies three spacious floors with a total area of over 90,000 square feet. It houses approximately 5,500 artworks, with the collection spanning from the early days of Modernism in the 1920s to the developments in Nordic art throughout the 1990s.

We firmly believe in the power of art and hope to be part of the international conversation, bringing more attention to Nordic art on the global stage.

-Kunstsilo Chairman Stein Olav Henrichsen.
relocation of the Gjerdeløe, a 17th-century wooden cabin (løe)

The Collections

The Kunstsilo collection is divided into three parts: the Tangen Collection, the Sørlandet Art Collection, and the Christianssands Picture Gallery, comprising over 7,500 unique artworks. It includes the world’s largest collection of Nordic Modernist works, deeply exploring renowned artists such as Reidar Aulie, Asger Jorn, Lars-Gunnar Nordström, and Anna-Eva Bergman. Additionally, it is dedicated to collecting works by artists forgotten by history.

Interior Structure

The silo is no longer just a place for storing grain, it has been transformed into a space where light and shadow intertwine, providing a new visual experience. The designers placed the original silos at the center, creating a cathedral-like central area. This atrium, which is as high as 21 meters, offers a spectacular display space for the museum’s collection of artworks.

Photo from Kunstsilo site.

Exposed concrete showcases the distinctiveness of Functionalism, while the metal mesh ceiling at the top exudes a sense of technology and futurism. At the same time, it retains traces of the past silos, harmoniously preserving the beauty of time passing by.

On the rooftop terrace, the wavy exterior surface of the silo continues. The glass-covered Panorama bar and event space provide a relaxing spot for visitors. The wooden finishes and furniture within the space aptly balance the tone of the bar. Surrounded by transparent curtains, visitors can overlook the stunning view of the archipelago and immerse themselves in the beautiful scenery of the Norwegian fjords.

Kunstsilo’s inaugural exhibition: Passions of the North

Inaugurating on May 11, 2024, the opening exhibition of the Kunstsilo art museum is curated by Åsmund Thorkildsen.

The theme of 20th-century contemporary artists is fitting. Living in a world of immense and ongoing change, ‘passion from the depths of the soul’ became the primary driving force for modern artists. Their need to explore, yearn, and develop led Nordic art into the world of Modernism.

“I like the universal abstract language in Concrete Art. It doesn’t tell you what you are looking at, or are meant to understand, but instead challenges you to think and feel.” – Nicolai Tangen

 

In addition to these exhibitions, the museum is dedicated to showcasing modern technology. The upcoming digital art experience, S-Lab, will present works from the Kunstsilo collection in an interactive, immersive environment, showcasing the modern aspects of each artwork for visitors of all ages.

The new Kunstsilo achieves an elegant balance through its architecture, embodying the expressive tension of the silo from the 1930s. Infusing modern architectural philosophy atop historical traces, a marvelous space where the past and future converge. Every step allows you to feel the sustainability and symbiosis of the building and its environment. While appreciating the art, you can also experience an endless sense of tranquility.

Exhibitions and Shop
Mon, Tue, Sat and Sun: 11am – 5 pm
Wed, Thu and Fri: 11 am – 9 pm

Brasserie, Main floor
Mon-Sun: 11 am – 10 pm

Panorama, 9th floor
Thu, Fri and Sat: 11 am – 02 am (Remaining days same opening hours exhibitions)

Sjølystveien 8,
4610 Kristiansand
Norway

+47 38 07 49 00

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