The Fresco Brothers and the Sisters of Liberty: the decoration of Oslo City Hall 1938-1950

Ola Abrahamsson, Reidar Aulie, Arne Ekeland, Jonas Hidle, Per Krohg, Willi Midelfart, Edvard Munch, Else Poulsson, Axel Revold, Bendik Riis, Alf Rolfsen, Kari Rude, Aage Storstein, Henrik Sørensen and others

March 10th, 2018-April 13th, 2018
Munch Museum on the Move–Kunsthall Oslo
Dronning Eufemias gate 34

Oslo City Hall is decorated with paintings, frescoes, carvings and tapestries that transform the building’s interior into a gesamtkunstwerk on a vast scale, depicting the founding myths of modern Norway. How did this iconic building get the extraordinary interior we know today?

This exhibition tells, for the first time, the story of how the City Hall’s interior came to be. Here you can experience some of the original artworks up close, and explore sketches, photographs and archive material that show the artistic processes behind the finished interior. At the same time, we want to draw attention to some of the proposals and possibilities that were not realised, and to explore what the City Hall – and its image of Norway – might have looked like if the committee in charge had made different decisions.

Many of Norway’s most successful artists wanted to contribute to the building. Among them, Arne Ekeland won the competition for the fresco in the main hall, but his proposal was never executed – perhaps partly because of his outspoken communist sympathies. Edvard Munch proposed a radical, major work that depicted the workers building the City Hall itself, but its approval was endlessly deferred and Munch died before it could be realised. Other artists, such as Bendik Riis, made elaborate proposals even though they were not invited to participate in the competition.

This is the first exhibition to explore the process of the creation of the Rådhus interior, and most of the paintings and sketches on view have never been presented to the public before, so this is a unique opportunity to discover more about how some of Norway’s most celebrated artists worked.

The exhibition runs from 10th March to 13th May. In addition there will be a series of talks by artists and art historians both in the exhibition and at the City Hall itself, and tours of the show every Sunday at 2pm.

Download the exhibition guide here (pdf, 99MB)