The main difference between an art museum and other art exhibition spaces, is its collections. Trondheim kunstmuseum’s collection consists of approximately 5,000 artworks, and makes up the foundation for the museum. The collection can tell us a lot about the institution’s history and reflects the different acquisition politics through the ages. Which works one considers the highlights of the collection, depends on one’s perspective. The selection of works in this exhibition seeks to show a cross-section of the contents of the collection, in which both art historical greats and old popular favourites are on display.
Since its first acquisition in 1867, Adolph Tidemand’s Norsk Juleskik (1846), the institution has been collecting art for nearly 150 years. The art collection has a main emphasis on Norwegian visual art from the 19th century up until today, but also comprises a considerable collection of international art. This includes vast volumes of 20th century Danish art as well as a large collection of international graphic art. Regional art is also well represented in the collection.
Gifts from private collectors have contributed in shaping the character of the collection, along with the acquisitions made by the museum, works donated by artists and grants from the Arts Council. Gifts and donations have been, and still are, and important factor in the growth of the museum’s collection. The oldest part of the collection was mainly amassed through private channels, either as gifts or grants earmarked for acquisitions. Local interest and involvement gives the institution a special character and a firm local foundation. The institution has played an important part for Trondheim’s art circles and has given the town cultural self-awareness and identity. For generations, permanent and temporary exhibitions put on display here have made artistic trends in Norway and abroad, accessible. Important acquisitions for the collection have been made through several of these exhibitions.
The museum’s history as an art institution can be traced back to 1845, with the founding of Trondhjems Kunstforening. The art society had no fixed address until the premises at Bispegata were inaugurated in 1930. The institution has existed in this building since then, with exhibition spaces across two floors and storage rooms in the basement. When Trondheim kunstmuseum was established in 1997, the building and the considerable art collection were transferred to the museum as a gift from Trondhjems Kunstforening. Due to its museum status and state funding, the institution’s social responsibility has changed somewhat, but the original mission statement remains; the museum should generate interest for, and spread knowledge about, visual art. Trondheim kunstmuseum endeavours to achieve this through acquisitions, conservation, research and education.
Cathrine Hovdahl Vik