Norwegian business tycoon Christen Sveaas once again attracted a large crowd of art lovers and dignitaries over the weekend, when he opened this summer’s exhibits at the historic pulp mill that he’s converted into the Kistefos Museum and sculpture park. German-Norwegian relations played a big role at Sunday’s opening, 65 years after the end of World War II.
The main exhibit of this year’s summer season at Kistefos features 10 young artists, five Norwegians and five Germans, who all have studied at “The New Leipzig School” and are showing 38 paintings. They follow a long tradition of cultural exchange between Norway and Germany.
Government minister Erik Solheim officially opened Kistefos Museum’s new season, and promptly ignored the old advice “don’t mention the war” with Germans present. With the German ambassador in attendance, as another invited guest, an enthusiastic Solheim tackled World War II head-on, calling it “the one big exception” in German-Norwegian relations. Otherwise, Solheim said, Norway’s relations with Germany extend back to the Reformation and Hanseatic trade and he highlighted the long parade of Norwegian artists who have lived and studied in Germany, from JC Dahl to Edvard Munch.
Solheim, who’s in charge of environmental and many historic preservation issues in Norway, also praised Sveaas for preserving and developing the former pulp factory owned by Sveaas’ grandfather. The younger Sveaas has invested millions of his own personal fortune in the project and only recently has received some state support.
While Solheim, from the Socialist Left party, seems at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Sveaas, the two clearly agree that Kistefos represents what Solheim called “a national symbol” of Norway’s industrial heritage, which eventually helped lift Norwegians out of poverty in the 1800s.
German Ambassador Detlev Rünger followed up on Solheim’s remarks, claiming that Kistefos is “internationally recognized” and a “highlight” of Norway’s artistic scene. “You have turned this old factory, with your imagination and wealth from hard work, into a truly remarkable space,” Rünger told Sveaas, adding that he was glad to see that German artistic traditions were appreciated and alive in Norway.
Photographs, industrial history
and sculpture also on display
In addition to the Norwegian/Leipzig exhibit, Norwegian photographer Øyvind Elvsborg has an exhibit at Kistefos this season featuring two twin brothers who have spent their entire lives living together on a small farm not far from Kistefos, and working in the forest. Their shared life suddenly changes when one of the brothers falls ill and must move to a serviced apartment.
Kistefos also features an industrial museum housed inside the old pulp factory, which is still undergoing refurbishment but now open to the public. The extensive grounds of the museum also are home to a major sculpture park, collected by Sveaas over the past 12 years.
“There is no new sculpture this year,” Sveaas had to tell the crowd, though. A new addition to the sculpture has been purchased, “and even paid for,” Sveaas said, but its placement in the river running through Kistefos required several permits that aren’t yet in place. “So this year’s sculpture will be unveiled next year,” he said.
Sveaas, however, is behind the installation of a large new sculpture in the fjord near Oslo’s new Opera House. He reportedly has donated NOK 8 million towards the sculpture, which will be unveiled by Queen Sonja on Tuesday.
Kistefos Museum and Sculpture Park
www.kistefos.museum.no (external link)
Open: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-5pm
Admission: Adults NOK 90, students and retirees NOK 60, children aged 7-16 NOK 40, children under 7 free.
Location: Jevnaker, entrance from either highways 35 from Hønefoss or 241 between Jevnaker and Hønenkrysset.
ALSO IN OUR MUSEUM GUIDE:
The National Museum – Architecture (special Royal Palace exhibit this year)