‘Pre-plan’ emerges for National Gallery

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After years of facing an uncertain future, state officials finally have a plan of sorts for Norway’s popular National Gallery in downtown Oslo. It will still be closed on January 13, when its art will start being packed up and moved to the new National Museum now under construction, but now it’s due to reopen as a showcase and studios for artists at work.

It’s twilight time for the National Gallery in Oslo, but now some plans for its future use are finally forming. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

If all goes well, the reopening will occur during the next two years. “I hope I’m still the culture minister when the National Gallery opens again,” said Trine Skei Grande, the leader of the Liberal Party who was appointed Minister of Culture when her party joined the conservative state government coalition in January. Grand’s term, along with those of all other government minister, currently runs through to the next parliamentary election in 2021, barring any government crises along the way.

A firm plan for future use of the National Gallery’s building from 1882 is expected next year, and then to be carried out as soon as possible. All the art inside the National Gallery will be removed by mid-2020, when the new museum is due to open.

‘Open and lively home’ for art
At least there’s a “plan for a plan” in place now, announced on Monday by Grande, National Museum director Karin Hindsbo and André Støylen, the former politician for the Conservatives who’s been chief executive of DNB’s cultural foundation (Sparebankstiftelsen DNB) since 2014.

“The idea is to turn the National Gallery into an open and lively home for the public, with art at its core,” Hindsbo told news bureau NTB. She rolled out a “pre-project” with Grande and Støylen that will examine future use of the building in detail. The “pre-plan” will be financed by DNB’s foundation, and charged with firming up the actual long-term plan for the building.

The goal is to rehabilitate the National Gallery and open up parts of it that have been closed to the public, such as its third floor and cellar. That, the three claim, can open up more public area and provide room for studios and production rooms that can be used by artists. “I think it’s important to have an arena where the art hanging on the walls isn’t all by artists who are dead,” Grande said.

‘Extremely good news’
Grande is widely credited with saving the National Gallery as a place for art. When her party negotiated to join the government, its new platform declared that the National Gallery will remain part of the National Museum, as long as plans for it wouldn’t involve major rehabilitation costs. That’s where the DNB arts foundation may play a role, through a sort of public-private partnership.

Hilde Tørdal, board leader of the national artists’ association (Norske billedkunstnere) called the new plan “extremely good news, and not least in line with what I’ve advocated. There’s so much potential here, both for artists and the museum.” She noted how artists could create art within the museum, and give the public an opportunity to gain insight into the process.

Oslo, meanwhile, has many other landmark buildings that are soon to be vacated because of moves to new, more spacious locations. They include the existing Munch Museum at Tøyen and the city library next to the still-vacant government complex that’s awaiting redevelopment after being bombed in 2011. No plans have as been laid for their future use.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund