Lillehammer Art Museum

Stainless steel rejuvenates Lillehammer Art Museum

Matjaž Matošec - 16 February 2017

Crowned with a cantilevering cube wrapped in polished stainless steel, the recent expansion of the museum gives the institution a contemporary look.

About the author

Mr Matjaž Matošec
Matjaž Matošec is Editor of Stainless Steel World News and Manager of the Stainless Steel World Conference.
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The Lillehammer Art Museum is one of Norway’s prominent cultural institutions, boasting a collection that consists of approximately 1400 works by Norwegian artists dating from the 1800s to the present day.

The institution and the adjacent Lillehammer Cinema were established in a building designed by Erling Viksjø in 1963, which is considered today a definite representation of the architectural style of its time. In 1994 – the year when Lillehammer hosted the 17th Winter Olympics – Snøhetta, an internationally renowned Norwegian architectural firm, completed an extension to the museum with the construction of an independent building that sought to bridge the architectural language of the original 1960s buildings and contemporary formal expression. Twenty-two years later, in 2016, a second Snøhetta-designed expansion was completed, connecting the two existing institutions with the addition of the new Weidemannsalen exhibition hall to the art museum, and two theatres and an interior renovation to the Lillehammer Cinema.

Museum expansion
The expansion of the museum is created on the idea of art hovering above a transparent base. The new space houses a children’s workshop at ground level with floor-to-ceiling windows and sits beneath a cantilevered hall wrapped in a dynamic metal façade.

The second-story gallery is dedicated to housing the works of Jakob Weidemann (1923–2001), an important Norwegian artist who lived in Lillehammer from 1968 until his death. The gallery’s striking metallic wrapping reflects the surrounding context and changes its appearance with the light. The façade was created by the late Norwegian artist Bård Breivik (1948–2016), and it is conceptually rooted in the sculptural idea of a shooting star, a dramatic symbol of the importance of Weidemann’s contribution to Norwegian painting.

Stainless façade
The façade is made from highly polished stainless steel, with reliefs measuring up to 25 cm in depth. Stainless steel was chosen primarily for aesthetic reasons. In the historical context of the museum’s buildings from 1963 and 1994, architects wanted the most recent expansion to stand out as a third unique volume, and the choice of the façade material – made in collaboration with Bård Breivik – crucially contributed to achieving this objective.

The basic façade components measure 500 mm x 500 mm. Their manufacture and fabrication took place in China, where they were welded together to form six large pieces before being shipped to Norway. Following final fabrication work done by Bård Breiviks in his Lillehammer atelier, the stainless façade elements were installed and then welded together.

* Photo © Mark Syke

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