Kunstsilo is an abandoned, award-winning grain silo in Kristiansand, Norway, which is 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 3,300 square metres, Kunstsilo is going to be an iconic and inclusive building when it’s finished. We believe that its architecture and contents will attract attention beyond the shores of Norway.
The building will house spectacular art exhibitions, an impressive mingling hall, a restaurant, café and shop, and a top floor restaurant with a stunning vista of Kristiansand and the seaward approach into to the harbour.
With its unique premises and location, Kunstsilo 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, banqueting 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 pieces of art. Although that is correct, this leaves out an important dimension. At the heart of every museum there also exists a passion to present, shed light on and interpret stories, ideas, and concepts in new ways – stories we recognise as our own or can picture ourselves participating in, and stories that might change our view of the world and perhaps ourselves as well.
Kunstsilo’s aim is to create beautiful and inviting rooms where we can share fantastic art and stories – not only with people who are quite interested in art, but also with all those people 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 and reflect upon yourself as well as the times you are living in through the very best that the arts have to offer. It means facilitating debate, dialogue, and perspectives on the arts by means of art. It’s about inviting differences to come together and about challenging ourselves and our world through the arts.
Kunstsilo is being built around a listed and award-winning grain silo made in 1934, designed by architects Arne Korsmo and Sverre Aasland. The silo received the prestigious Houens Fonds Pris for good architecture in 1939 and is one of the finest examples of functionalist architecture in Norway.
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 history of industry 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 of the new Kunstsilo.
I think most people feel this is more than just an ordinary building, and it makes a great impression on all of us. What I’m really looking forward to now is the day when I can experience that feeling being in a cathedral gives you while I’m standing inside the silo.Reidar Fuglestad, managing director of Sørlandets Kunstmuseum and Kunstsilo
Kunstsilo is in a part of town that is alive with the arts and culture, beautifully situated by the sea, shoulder to shoulder with Kanalbyen and close to the Kilden Theatre and Concert House, the Kristiansand School of Visual and Performing Arts, the Vest-Agder Museum (Kristiansand Museum) and the artists’ centre that comprises more than 100 studios on the island of Odderøya. We look forward to being part of this cultural hub and to introducing exciting world-class art and cultural productions together with them.
1935: The grain silo, consisting of fifteen cylindrical cells and a six-storey warehouse, is built on Odderøya. The silo is the first functionalist building in Kristiansand and is considered a symbol of modernity. (Photo: The National Archives of Norway / Agderbilder.no) 1935: The grain silo, consisting of fifteen cylindrical cells and a six-storey warehouse, is built on Odderøya. The silo is the first functionalist building in Kristiansand and is considered a symbol of modernity. (Photo: The National Archives of Norway / Agderbilder.no)
1940-1945: In the summer of 1940 Christianssands Møller is ordered by the German authorities to paint the silo in a dark “mineralite colour” to camouflage it. After the war, the silo is painted white again. (Photo: Private)
1953: The warehouse connected to the silo is expanded. The building is now completed and will remain like this until the demolition and rehabilitation begins in 2019. (Archive photo)
1990: The silo has been important to the region over a long period of time, but increased centralisation within Norway means that the need for grain storage in the area is reduced. (Photo: The National Archives of Norway / Agderbilder.no)
2008: Christianssands Møller and the grain silo are closed permanently, 73 years after the silo was first built. The city council decide that it should be preserved. (Photo: The National Archives of Norway / Agderbilder.no)
2015: Nicolai Tangen donates his unique collection of modernist art to the AKO Art Foundation and Sørlandets Kunstmuseum. This is driven by a desire for the art to be housed and shown at the silo, which is from the same era as the collection itself. (Archive photo: The Vest-Agder Museum)
2016: An open architecture competition is held. Out of over one hundred architectural firms from 17 countries, Mestres Wåge Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural Studio are awarded the task. The jury highlighted the unique combination of architectural confidence and reverence for the silo building itself as well as 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, starting in 2022 . The construction work on Kunstsilo is initiated in September. The building project’s first phase is the demolition and rehabilitation of portions of the building. (Photo: Simon Hartveit)
2021: The stair tower and the port warehouse are removed and the building’s foundation is built up again. Between 60-200 construction workers will participate in the rehabilitation and demolition process in preparation for the opening of Kunstsilo. (Photo: Erling Slyngstad-Hægeland)
Kunstsilo will be filled with works from both the Tangen Collection and 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, who is born in Kristiansand, endowed the collection to the AKO Art Foundation. In the same year, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum entered an agreement that contains perpetual right of disposal of the art. The Tangen Collection is in a state of continuous development.
Sørlandets Kunstmuseum was established upon and developed from Christiansands // Christianssands Billedgalleri’s collection in 1995. Recently, the museum has also built up its own collection, which consists of 1,588 works as of December 2019. New additions are made to the collection every year. We have a specific national responsibility for handicrafts, and we also purchase jewellery, glass art, ceramics and textiles, mainly from regional artists.