How Oslo adds a touch of style to the UN

Seventy years ago, Norway paid for the interior of ‘the most important room in the world’. Now it’s rediscovering the soft power of its design heritage

The World Today
Published 27 May 2022 Updated 28 September 2022 3 minute READ

Helen Fitzwilliam

Journalist and filmmaker

The view from the roof terrace of Oslo’s newest museum takes in the deep blue fjord and harbour but also the recently opened Munch Museum, whose tilting tower leans over the white iceberg of the opera house. All are emblematic of the transformation of Norway’s capital, one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, into a cultural destination.  

The £500 million National Museum, which opens on June 11, is another statement building in a city which has tended to value modesty over self-promotion. Locals may call it ‘the bunker’ but Denise Hagströmer, a senior curator who compiled its design galleries, believes the museum’s monumental scale and the range of its displays mark a change in Norway’s idea of itself: ‘The country that in the past was thought of as the “little brother” of Scandinavia is now speaking with a completely different voice.’

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