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Travel: Oslo

[ 4 December 2015 | Print This Post ]
4 December 2015

By Gemma Brosnan

NESTLED at the top of the Oslofjord and surrounded by lush forest, Oslo was once overlooked in favour of its hip Scandinavian cousins, but the city has enjoyed a cultural rebirth in recent years and is now a major tourist destination for art lovers.

Fuelled by oil riches and a dash of egalitarianism, this laid back capital has grown from a sprawling country town into a sophisticated metropolis offering world-class museums and galleries with some of the most cutting-edge art in Europe being produced by its young artists.

The area known as Tjuvholmen is the latest addition to the city’s flourishing art scene and part of its ongoing regeneration programme, which began with the transformation of the adjacent Aker Brygge district in the 1980s, turning former shipyards into a mix of high-end apartments, restaurants and offices.

Known in the 18th century as ‘Thief Island’ because of its role as a prison islet, this trendy arts district was once a seedy hangout for criminals, but has now been transformed with buildings drawn by some twenty different architects, creating a concentrated display of current trends in architecture and the city’s new architectural jewel: the Astrup Fearnley Museet.

This modern-art museum designed by Renzo Piano opened in 2012 as a new £65m home for the private art collection of a shipping company with a host of international exhibitions featuring works from Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and Cindy Sherman.

The collection of modern and contemporary art is counted among the most significant of its kind in Northern Europe and is distinguished by its focus on acquiring individual, ground-breaking works rather than trying to cover entire periods or movements. Young American artists were previously dominating, but latter years have seen the inclusion of significant voices from Europe, Brazil, Japan, China, and India.

Astrup Fearnley Museet is flanked by Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park with canals, lawns and a little beach attached, and several sculptures on outdoor display. The sculptures are all made by significant contemporary artists including pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor and are suited for both contemplation and climbing. The park has easy access from the museum, and vice versa, reflecting an important overall goal for architect Renzo Piano: To create a space where art is accessible to everyone, and where it becomes an integral part of urban life.

Next to the museum on Albert Nordengens plass, The Sneak Peak (Tjuvtitten) is a 90-metre lookout tower at Tjuvholmen offering a vantage point 54 meters above sea level and a view of the city, bay, boats and hills from a whole new angle.

At the Pushwagner Gallery, the vibrant palette and playfully repetitive pop art from Hariton Pushwagner — the pseudonym of the acclaimed Norwegian artist Terje Brofos — are a welcome contrast to Munch and the gallery is dedicated solely to showcasing Norwegian work.


Overlooking the Oslo Fjord waterfront, the Thief is in the heart of Tjuvholmen with most of its 118 bespoke rooms offering stunning waterfront views and accessible luxury designed to steal you away from everyday life.

More than £3m of original contemporary artwork lines the walls including original Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons reflecting the innovative spirit of its owner – self-made, art-collecting billionaire,  Petter A. Stordalen. The lifts feature animations by Julian Opie and every single one of the rooms is decorated with a hand-picked piece selected by Sune Nordgren, the former director of Norway’s National Museum and now the Thief’s own curator, ranging from original collages by Sir Peter Blake to photographs by Bryan Ferry.

The deluxe room boasts windows from floor to ceiling with a private balcony, motion sensors to activate the lights, a tablet that doubles as a remote device controlling the 42-inch plasma television, on-demand movies and radio, free Wi-Fi, an iPod dock and stereo, hair dryer, iron, Nespresso coffee machine, plaid bathrobes designed by by Maggie Wonka, Norwegian woollen slippers and no less than nine pillows framing the king bed.

The marble bathroom’s sleek rainforest shower is a soothing introduction to the several magnificent experience showers on offer in the spa which also boasts a twelve meters pool, several types of saunas, five treatment rooms, separate VIP-treatment room for full makeovers, a complete beauty lounge, shop, gym and Spa Bar.


Starting at 1,790 Norwegian kroner. For more information on latest offers and rates, go to The Thief

Get There

Norwegian Air

Starting at £19 each way. For more information go to Norwegian Air

More information

Go to Visit Oslo


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