The National Museum of Art in Oslo was established in 2003, by the merging of four existing museums: the Museum of Architecture, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, and the National Gallery of Norway.

In 2008 the construction of the new venue for the reunited museums began.

In 2016, following an international competition for the setup of the permanent exhibition of the new museum, our studio was awarded the assignment for the lighting design project, in team with the studio Guicciardini & Magni Architects for the exhibition design and Rovai & Weber for graphic design.

The new museum opened in June 2022. Housed in a rigorous architecture, with its several thousand artworks on display and 10.000 sqm permanent exhibition area split in 86 galleries, it is now the largest museum hub in Scandinavia.

Because of that huge dimension, for our project we wanted the visitor’s attention to be kept on the exhibition, making him feel at ease, and avoiding the risk that the visit would turn into a stressful experience instead of pleasant. We wanted the light to accompany the visitor, reinforcing the experience of the visit. The light had to appear innate with the set-up, it did not have to be intrusive, nor become the protagonist.

“Variation” has been the key word we have used to achieve that result. We agreed with the exhibition designers of our team that the setup of the exhibition sections should have been diversified to enrich the exhibition itinerary: materials, colours and light should have contributed to differentiate the rooms where the artworks were exhibited. And light, among the many elements that contribute to characterizing the settings, is perhaps the most important.

Among the main elements we used to shape the light of the different sections are the balance of contrasts and the modelling. The exhibition unfolds on a chronological criterion: the light becomes kind of a metaphor of a journey through time.

In the first rooms, dedicated to antiquity and middle age, the chiaroscuro tone generated by dark colors and strongly contrasted lighting gives richness to the objects on display. Following the exhibition path, the galleries become gradually characterized by lighter colors and softer contrasts.

As we approach the present days, light becomes more and more “democratic”, less focused on individual objects, more pervasive. The transition to the modern era is marked by the rooms dedicated to the industrial design, where the multitude of objects offered by the industrial production is underlined by a light of greater intensity and, above all, more diffused, symbolizing the availability of such objects for all.

To achieve those results, it has been essential to rely on the most up-to-date technologies, adopting professional lighting fixtures, based on the latest generation of LED sources and equipped with sophisticated optics, capable of providing clean and precise light beams, without any uncontrolled peak of spill light.


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