Some of Norway’s major museums are jubilant these days, after recording big increases in their numbers of visitors last year, while others are disappointed or even facing crisis. Oslo’s Munch Museum and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter located just west of the capital have the most to celebrate.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported earlier this month that the Munch Museum, which still faces an uncertain future because of political quarreling and concern over the mounting costs of a new museum building, saw its visitor numbers double last year, from 125,163 in 2014 to 254,287 last year. The jump was pegged mostly to highly successful exhibits including a unique pairing of Edvard Munch’s art with that of Vincent Van Gogh.
The Henie Onstad Kunstsenter at Høvik in Bærum also saw a big jump in attendance, to 63,184 last year from 44,788. Its Hilma av Klint exhibit alone drew more than 23,000 visitors. Norway’s National Museum in Oslo also had a good year in 2015, with total visitors up to 602,546 from 439,942 in 2014.
Oslo’s Stenersen Museum, though, which is under the administration of the Munch Museum, had a dismal year marred by an unsuitable location in Vika, water leaks and attendance that slid to just 9,906 last year from 17,287 the year before. Munch Museum officials have been accused of failing to give Stenersen any priority and now it’s moving out of its Vika location. Its art, initially donated by the Stenersen family, will later be exhibited at Kunsthall Oslo in Bjørvika, and ultimately in the new Munch Museum nearby, if and when it finally opens on the city’s eastern waterfront.
Another private museum that’s had much more attention, Astrup Fearnley at Tjuvholmen, reported a slight dip in attendance last year, to 130,341 from 130,668 in 2014. The museum, which has sought and received some public funding, had a goal of attracting 250,000 visitors a year when it opened in 2012 but its director Gunnar Kvaran claimed he was satisfied with visitor numbers in 2015. “At the same time we have potential to increase visitor numbers and see 200,000 or more as completely realistic,” Kvaran told Dagsavisen.