Kunstsilo is an abandoned, award-winning grain silo in Kristiansand, Norway, now being transformed into one of Northern Europe’s most innovative art institutions and experience centres.
Covering three floors and comprising an exhibition area of 3300 square metres, Kunstsilo will be an iconic and unifying building whose architecture and contents will attract attention far beyond Norwegian shores.
The iconic building will house spectacular art exhibitions, an imposing mingling hall, a restaurant, café and shop, and a marvellous top floor.
With its unique premises and location, the centre will house the Tangen Collection – the world’s largest collection of Nordic modernist art – as well as Sørlandets Kunstmuseum’s permanent collection. In addition, Kunstsilo will act as a platform for international digital contemporary art and offer an extensive programme of temporary exhibitions as well as lectures, concerts, workshops, entertaining rooms and events.
There will be room for art and cultural experiences that engage, surprise and delight. It will be playful and open; but there will also be room for silence and contemplation, so people can put away their mobile phones and just be present in the moment.
Museums are often thought of as places that collect, preserve and exhibit objects of art. That is correct, but it leaves out an important dimension. At the heart of every museum there is also a passion to present, shed light on and interpret stories, ideas and concepts in new ways – stories we recognise as ours or can picture ourselves in, and stories that might change our view of the world and perhaps ourselves.
The aim for Kunstsilo is to create beautiful and inviting rooms where we can share fantastic art and stories – with people who are really interested in art, but also with all those who don’t normally visit museums and galleries. Our mission is to bring people to the arts and the arts to the people. This means giving you a chance to encounter yourself and your own time through the very best from the arts scene. It means facilitating debate, dialogue and perspectives on the arts by means of art. It’s about inviting differences to meet and about challenging ourselves and our world through the arts.
Kunstsilo is being created around a listed and award-winning grain silo from 1934, designed by architects Arne Korsmo and Sverre Aasland. The silo received the prestigious Houens Fonds Pris for good architecture in 1939 and is considered one of the finest examples of functionalist architecture in Norway. It is not by chance that Kunstsilo is located here.
The combination of art and architecture has always been an important driver and success factor in all urban and regional development. Showing respect for the industrial history helps give Kunstsilo a valuable extra dimension. Preserving and rehabilitating an important landmark, rather than building something new, also contributes to sustainable urban and social development. Mestres Wåge Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural studio are the architects for the new Kunstsilo.
“I think most people feel this is more than just an ordinary building, and it does something to all of us. What I really look forward to now, is the day when I can experience that sense of cathedral inside the silo building.”Reidar Fuglestad, managing director of Sørlandets Kunstmuseum
Kunstsilo is located in a part of town that is alive with arts and culture, beautifully situated by the sea, shoulder to shoulder with Kanalbyen and close to Kilden Theatre and Concert House, Kristiansand School of Visual and Performing Arts and the artists’ centre that comprises more than 100 studios on Odderøya. We look forward to being part of a that cultural hub and to introducing exciting world-class art and culture productions together with them.
The grain silo is built on Odderøya, with fifteen cylindrical cells and a six-storey warehouse. The silo is the first functionalist building in Kristiansand and is considered a symbol of modernity. (Photo: State archive / Agderbilder.no)
1940-1945: In the summer of 1940 Christiansands Møller is ordered by the German authorities to paint the silo in a dark “mineralite colour” as camouflage. After the war, the silo is painted white again. (Photo: Private)
1953: The warehouse connected to the silo is expanded. The building is now finished, as it will stand until it the demolition begins. (Archive photo)
1990: The silo has been important for the region over a long period of time, but increased centralisation within Norway means that the need for corn storage in the region is reduced. (Photo: State archive / Agderbilder.no)
2008: Christiansands Møller and the corn silo is closed permanently, 73 years after the silo was first built. The city council decide that it should be preserved. (Photo: State archive / Agderbilder.no)
2015: Nicolai Tangen gifts his unique collection of modernist art to the AKO Art Foundation and Kristiansands Kunstmuseum, led by a desire that the art should be housed and shown at the silo, which is from the same era as the art itself. (Archive photo: Vest Agder Folkmuseum)
2016: An open architecture competition is held, from over a hundred architect firms from 17 countries Mestres Wåge Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural studio is awarded the task. The jury highlighted a unique combination of architectural confidence and reference for the silo building itself and the task. (Illustration: Mestres Wåge Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural studio)
2019: The Kunstsilo project is fully financed in the summer of 2019. Both the city council in Kristiansand as well as the Agder counties agree to double the operating grants to Kunstsilo until 2022. The construction work on Kunstsilo is initiated in September. The building project’s first phase is demolition and rehabilitation of portions of the building. (Photo: Simon Hartveit)
The stair tower and the port warehouse is removed, and the building’s fundaments built up again. Between 60-200 construction workers will participate in the rehabilitation and demolition process, in preparation for the Kunstsilo opening. (Photo: Erling Slyngstad-Hægeland)
Kunstsilo will be filled with works from the Tangen Collection, works from Sørlandets Kunstmuseum’s collection, contemporary art and temporary exhibitions. The contents will vary through the year.
The Tangen Collection consists of over 4,000 works, and is referred to by art experts as the largest and most important collection, privately or publicly owned, of Norwegian and Nordic modernist art from the period 1930 – 1980. In 2015, art collector Nicolai Tangen endowed the collection to AKO Art Foundation. In the same year, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum entered an agreement with perpetual right of disposal of the art. The Tangen Collection is in continuous development.
Sørlandets Kunstmuseum was developed from Christiansand’s Picture Gallery’s collection in 1995. Recently, the museum has also built up it’s own collection, consisting of 1,588 works as of December 2019. New additions are made to the collection every year. With a unique national mandate for handicrafts, including jewellery, glass, ceramics and textiles, particularly from regional artists.