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Norway’s New National Museum Opening Delayed to 2022

Illustration of the new National Museum in Oslo
Illustration: MIR Statsbygg

Due to delays in the construction project, the new National Museum in Oslo is delayed again. It will now not open until 2022.

Earlier problems had already put back the opening date for Norway's flagship cultural building from 2020 to 2021. Now, pandemic restrictions combined with delays to deliveries and installations means that Statsbygg's completion of Norway's new National Museum is to be delayed once again.

According to the revised plan, the National Museum should have taken over the new building from Statsbygg in spring 2020, with a view to opening in spring 2021.

As the situation is now, art assembly cannot begin until the beginning of 2021 at the earliest. So, bosses have taken the decision to postpone the opening until 2022. An exact date has not been given.

Strict regulations

“The new National Museum is a complex building with strict requirements for safety, temperature and climate. The construction work has been completed, but still some testing and error corrections remain,” says CEO Harald Nikolaisen of Statsbygg.

The security doors now function mainly as they should, but there is still some work to be done with electrical, security and climate control.

A luminous stone glass exhibition hall dominates the new National Museum in Oslo, Norway
A luminous stone glass exhibition hall dominates the new National Museum in Oslo, Norway.

Some of the reasons for the new delays are strikingly similar to those of the city's new Munch museum, which has also been delayed during its construction.

Pandemic delays

The health crisis has affected both Statsbygg's construction project and the National Museum's activities. The restrictions in Oslo and beyond presented challenges with transport and logistics, and a halt in some deliveries. There have also been delays due to the quarantine for specialists and construction workers from abroad.

This means that there will still be some uncertainty associated with the completion of the building and the opening of the new museum.

“Due to the delays in the construction project, we have not yet been able to use any of the exhibition spaces, workshops or storage rooms. It's sad, of course,” says the National Museum's director Karin Hindsbo.

“We also see that due to COVID-19 there is some uncertainty associated with the museum's assembly work, but we will do everything we can to prepare the museum in a safe and efficient way when the construction project is completed. Hopefully it will not be far into 2022 that we can open the doors to the public.”

The revised timeline of the new museum

2008: Statsbygg bought the site on Vestbanen to build a new national museum
2010: The winner of the architectural competition is chosen
2012: Preliminary project completed
2013: The Norwegian Parliament approves construction and determines the cost framework
2014: Start of construction
2018: Topping out (“Kranselag”)
2022: Opening

The New National Museum at night
Illustration: MIR Statsbygg

The new museum

At almost 55,000 square meters, the new National Museum will be the largest art museum the Nordic region. It is expected to cost more than NOK 6 billion.

Plans include the display of 5,000 works, almost double the amount displayed in the museum's previous buildings. The planned auditorium will seat 174 people and a 2,400 square metre ‘light hall' is designed for temporary exhibitions and events.

The building is part of a long-term plan to develop Oslo’s waterfront area. It has drawn opposition from some for its plain exterior. However, one of the masterminds behind the new museum’s design, Klaus Schuwerk, said: “the materials should stand the test of time, so that the building can age with patina and dignity.”

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