National Museum of Architecture Oslo

Opened in 2008, the National Museum of Architecture at Bankplassen 3, is close to the Castle of Akershus, on the west side of a very attractive square that has the National Museum of Contemporary Art across the south side. 

The earliest part of the building was designed by Christian Heinrich Grosch (1801-1865) and completed in 1830 for Norges Bank. Grosch was Norwegian but educated in Germany and Copenhagen. He became the chief architect and planning engineer for the city of Oslo and was the Inspector of Royal Building.

An interesting film (in Norwegian) in an upstairs gallery explains about the extensive work required to restore and adapt the 19th-century building for the new museum and shows the skill and craftsmanship required to rebuild brick vaulting, lay brick floors and restore the striking decorative scheme of the entrance hall and main staircase.

For exhibitions there is a large, almost free-standing glazed pavilion that was designed by the Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn (1924-2009). The space has amazing natural light, unusual in many modern museums because of conservation issues, with views back to the rear elevation of the old bank and views out to adjoining streets. When necessary, light levels are controlled by louvres or shutters. Fehn was the leading architect of his generation and was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture and the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal in 1997.

The museum has a collection of drawings, architectural models and photographs and has a programme of exhibitions and lectures. There is a small but good book shop and a pleasant restaurant.