The Norwegian Association of Art Societies represents a network of 149 art societies. Our aim is to give everyone the opportunity to experience professional visual art, regardless of where in Norway you live.
For many Norwegians, the closest art museum is hours away. Norway’s art societies are scattered all over the country, and are therefore vital for introducing contemporary art to a wide audience. Since 1836 the art societies have played an important role in the Norwegian art scene.
Today the art societies, which are non-profit organisations, range from leading professional art venues in the major cities, to galleries based purely on voluntary work in more remote locations. In spite of their differences in size, budget and exhibition profile, the art societies share a goal of bringing art to the public. In total the art societies have approximately 16.000 members, organise approximately 1.000 exhibitions every year and organise public lectures on art, workshops and artist talks.
The Norwegian Association of Art Societies provide a wide range of initiatives to assist the art societies in their endeavor to develop and professionalise their activities. We organise regional and national workshops and seminars and offer touring exhibitions of contemporary art to our members. The art societies can also apply to us for funding of projects, improvement of gallery facilities and transportation of exhibitions. The projects we support contributes to strengthening the art societies’ position on the Norwegian art scene, and to promote interest and understanding of the visual arts, applied arts, design and architecture throughout the country.
The Norwegian Association of Art Societies publishes the magazine Kunst Pluss three times a year. Every year we give out the award Art Society of the Year.
The association’s activities are funded by Art Council Norway.
Since 2010 we have awarded The Norwegian Association of Art Societies Debutant Prize at the annual National Art Exhibition in Oslo (Høstutstillingen). The winner receives a prize of 50.000 NOK. The aim of the prize is to draw attention to young, unestablished visual artists in Norway.
Winners of The Norwegian Association of Art Societies Debutant Prize:
- 2020: Admir Batlak, for the sculptures A New Tomorrow 2, 3 & 5
- 2019: Tiago Bom, for the videoinstalltion República
- 2018: Arild Våge Berge, for The Gravity of a Lake Focused Into One Point (2) og Unstable Monuments 1
- 2017: Anna Christina Lorenzen, for the woodcut An Uncut Line (Eques)
- 2016: Karin Blomgren, for Gjennomgang, an installation in raw clay
- 2015: Sebastian Makonnen Kjølaas, for I’m So Oily / A Puzzle Building MuscleCyber-fun in the Algorithm Gravy / Powerhouse on the Rooftop og It’s Mega-personal / Training to Become a Train
- 2014: Heidi Kennedy Skjerve, for eight drawings, Plan
- 2013: Susanne Kathlen Mader, for the installation/wall painting Hendelser i stor høyde
- 2012: Marthe Elise Stramrud, for the photo series Livingroom Poetics
- 2011: Serhed Waledkhani, for the video animation Flukt
- 2010: Gunvor Nervold Antonsen, for the textile work Barovessjan
The Norwegian Association of Art Societies has since 2012 collaborated with the equivalent organisations in Denmark and Sweden, Sammenslutningen af Danske Kunstforeninger and Sveriges Konstföreningar. So far, the collaboration has resulted in two Nordic conferences. In 2013 Sveriges Konstföreningar was the main organiser for a conference on the future art societies, and in 2016 The Norwegian Association of Art Societies hosted a conference on the topic of financing the visual arts.
Since 2019 we have been working together with Arbeitgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvoreine, Sveriges Konstföreningar and Finnish Art Society, on a project to strengthen the art societies and to develop international exchange programs for the art societies. We have received funding for the initial meetings from Nordisk Kulturfond.
From 2007–2009 The Norwegian Association of Art Societies was in charge of the international project ArtEduNorway in China – ArtEduChina in Norway. The collaborative project aimed at contributing to cultural exchange and understanding between Norway and China, by introducing the system of voluntarily run art societies in China. Chinese art is in demand on the global art market, but there is nonetheless a lack of galleries for contemporary art in China, and establishing art societies was seen as a possible model for changing this situation.
Our main partner in the project was The Chinese Artists Association. ArtEduNorway in China – ArtEduChina in Norway was planned as a project in four stages. The first part consisted of a Norwegian delegation visiting China, where a seminar on Norwegian art history was held and a handbook in Chinese on establishing and running art societies was launched. As part two a Chinese delegation came to Norway, where the participants contributed to a seminar on the development in Chinese art, and visited Norwegian art societies and art institutions. In 2008, the third part of the project was realised as a Norwegian pavilion at The Third Beijing International Art Biennale. The collaboration was to be concluded with an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art in Norway. But when the Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel’s Peace Prize in 2010, all Norway–China relations cooled, and hence the last part of the project was never carried through.
Project partners/sponsors: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, The Fritt Ord Foundation, Chinese Artists Association, Beijing Biennale Office, Bergen municipality, Stavanger municipality and Oslo municipality.
Norwegian Association of Art Societies/Norske Kunstforeninger
Kongens gate 2
Visitor address: Kongens gate 2, Oslo, Norway
Telephone: (+47) 22 42 20 35