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The History of the IBSEN Museum & Teater

The Ibsen Museum was founded by Knut Wigert in June 1990. Since 1993 The Ibsen Musuem has been a part of Norsk Folkemuseum.

  • Hulda Szacinski / Oslo Museum

Ibsen's home

After Suzannah Ibsen´s death in 1914, their son Sigurd Ibsen gave his father´s study and bedroom to the city of Kristiania, the reading room to the County museum in Skien and the dining room to Grimstad, where the chemist´s shop in which Ibsen had worked had been made into a museum as early as in 1909. In that Henrik and Suzannah Ibsen had leased the apartment at Arbins gate 1, Sigurd did not wish to continue to pay rent on his parents´ home any longer than was necessary.

  • Arbins gate 1, where Henrik Ibsen lived. Anders Beer Wilse / Oslo Museum

Sigurd Ibsen had promised his parents to keep the furnishings from "the red drawing room". The furniture from that room and most of the paintings were taken along to Villa Ibsen in Suisi near Bolzano in Italy, where Sigurd Ibsen lived until his death in 1930. The interior went out of the family´s possession in 1968 when the place was sold to Italians. The furniture was, with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, bought back in 2002. The paintings are still to be found in Villa Ibsen, but the Ibsen Museum has with the assistance of Ibsen´s great grandchild, the actor Joen Bille, been granted the right of pre-emption.

The mayor of Kristiania proposed having the interior preserved in the apartment on Arbins gate, but the initiative was too late in coming. The city executive took contact with the owners regarding what it would cost to purchase the building. The politicians thought that NOK 300,000 was too expensive. The municipality therefore deposited the furnishings of the bedroom and the study at the Norwegian Folk Museum. The study was reconstructed and exhibited with all of the original objects while the bedroom, with Bergliot Ibsen´s approval, was loaned to Skien to be exhibited along with the library at the Brekke estate.

The Ibsen Museum is now a part of the Norsk Folkemuseum foundation, and contains Henrik Ibsens home, restored with original interiors and an exhibition presenting Ibsen's life and works.

Knut Wigert

Ibsen's apartment in Arbins gate was used for office purposes until the foundation "Nasjonalmuseet Henrik Ibsen" was established on the initiative of actor Knut Wigert in June 1990. With a renowned Ibsen interpreter in the lead, the plans achieved great media attention. Oslo City Council made the following decision on 27 July 1990: "Under the condition that a permanent Ibsen museum is established in Arbinsgt. 1, Oslo municipality is keen that Ibsen's workroom be transferred to Arbinsgate. Further conditions, including a reassuring agreement on security, museum professional supervision, etc. , must be negotiated before transfer can take place." In the autumn of 1990, several readings and performances were arranged in Ibsen's apartment. At this time, the museum had no facilities, but received furniture and monetary gifts from private individuals, financial support from foundations and sponsorship funds from the business community.

On 15 April 1991, the board was reconstituted after both Oslo municipality and the University had appointed their representatives. The members were actor Knut Wigert (chairman), former culture minister Lars Roar Langslet, professor Vigdis Ystad (UiO) and Erling Skjørshammer (Oslo municipality). The foundation's finance committee consisted of former prime minister Jan P. Syse and Ingjald Ørbeck Sørheim. A friends association was also formed with Tove Munch as leader. The Association of Friends organized a number of lectures and readings.

In 1992, restoration of the apartment was initiated with civil architect Treider as project manager. A building antiquarian survey was carried out, assisted by the National Antiquarian. During the work, several traces of the original apartment were uncovered, but unfortunately there were no resources to pursue all the findings, and one had to settle for a partial restoration.

Norsk Folkemuseum

On 15 March 1993, at the request of the Ministry of Culture, the foundation and the Norsk Folkemuseum entered into an agreement on the operation of the Ibsen Museum. When the agreement was signed, Culture Minister Åse Kleveland could state that the Ministry of Culture would also cover the rent for the 5th floor of the building, which was to be used for public activities and administration. On 4 January 1994, the museum opened its doors to the public with daily tours, eventually also with evening events such as lectures and performances. The Ibsen Museum is today a department of the Norwegian Folk Museum.

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    Haakon Harris

IBSEN Museum & Teater

The Ibsen Museum underwent an extensive refurbishment and expansion for the Ibsen year 2006, and the most important measures at the time were an extensive reconstruction of Ibsen's home and the establishment of the basic exhibition "Henrik Ibsen - on the contrary!". These works gave the Ibsen Museum a boost, which resulted in greater activity and more than doubling the number of visitors.

In 2012, the apartment building was bought by Victoria eiendom by Christian Ringnes. This gave opportunities to expand operations. After 3 years of reconstruction, the theater could open for guest performances in the spring of 2022, and Ibsen Museum & Teater was established as the new name. The museum reopened on 1 July 2023.

Museum24:Portal - 2024.06.11
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