Photo: Unni Irmelin Kvam

The Museum / History /

As soon as the contract between Gustav Vigeland and the City of Oslo was signed in February 1921, the construction work began at Frogner. Architect Lorentz Harboe Ree (1888-1962) had been commissioned to design the building.

Vigeland started to doubt Ree's competence early on, reacting to the architect's fluctuation between different styles. Ree faced a challenging task, but despite disagreements with Vigeland, he managed to create architecture of high quality. The building, with its monumentality, proportions, and discreetly adapted details, ranks among the main works of neoclassicism in Norway.

Vigeland's specific request for hand-beaten red brick in the exterior was taken into account, and the tower received an interior circular room and an exterior balustrade. The south wing, intended for the studio and workshops, was delayed due to insufficient funds as the building turned out to be considerably more expensive than initially estimated. The south wing was completed in 1929 and turned out to be very different from the rest of the building due to the emergence of a new architectural style in Norway: Functionalism. This architectural style brought new solutions, with Ree designing large windows framed with thin iron window bars, and all decorative details were omitted.

In 1926, architects Ree and Buch were awarded the Houens Fonds Prize for good architecture. Carl Emil Buch (1892-1968) became Ree's partner in 1920, but Ree had the primary responsibility during the construction process. The building was completed in 1929.