Kistefos is the most extraordinary museum you have most likely never heard of. It has it all, and then some more.
Tucked away in a sleepy Norwegian village an hour north of Oslo, on the southern shore of the Rands Fjord, the historic wood pulp mill has become a bucket list item for culture vultures.
With 46 sculptures spread across picturesque grounds, Kistefos is the largest gathering of site specific contemporary art in northern Europe, featuring some of the most iconic figures in the art world.Icelandic-Danish sensation Olafur Eliasson has a piece in the park. Japanese provocateur Yayoi Kusama and her famous dots are there to be found. And there is also a piece by British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor if you look close enough.
But, let’s be honest, the opening of The Twist last September put the Kistefos Musuem on the global stage.
They have been promoted from the Championship to the Champions League spots in the Premier League, courtesy of another masterpiece by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
The Twist isn’t just a gallery – it actually consists of three showrooms; Closed Gallery, Twist Gallery and Panorama Gallery – and an inhabitable sculpture, it is also a bridge that is 85 metres long, crossing a river that turns the park journey into a loop.You have to see it to believe it.
The brainchild of Ingels and his architecture practice BIG – the team that designed Noma 2.0 and some of the highly acclaimed buildings in Scandinavia, New York City and beyond – became a phenomenon in the design world overnight and would have made an even bigger splash had 2020 not been so, well you know, 2020.
With the coronavirus pandemic bringing the world to a screeching halt in March, the Kistefos team were able to prepare as normal for the season ahead, which started in late May.
Unlike many museums and galleries around the world, they weren’t forced to lay any staff off and have remained open throughout the season, adhering to the new normal of social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols.
At a time when people need an escape from a grim reality, Kistefos are thrilled to provide a sanctuary for art worshippers and those who need a distraction for a few hours.
“We have been very pleased to provide our visitors with a place to escape during this difficult period,” Kistefos director Birgitte Espeland told Man of Style.
“It has been excellent to welcome many people into Kistefos during the past few in months, although in an albeit slightly different structure with social distancing, one-way traffic as part of our infection prevention strategy.”
Many say highly successful professional punter David Walsh has done more for Tasmania than almost anyone in recent memory, on the back of the opening of his famous art destination, the Museum of Old and New Art.
The same can be said for Norwegian businessman Christen Sveass, who founded the Kistefos scultpure park in 1996 before dramatically changing the game when he appointed Ingels in 2015.
In a world still tiptoeing its way out of a pandemic, a tiny spot just outside Oslo is now firmly on the art map.