Jacob’s Church (Original name St. James Church) of Culture in the capital of Norway was designed by architect Georg Andreas Bull and built in 1889. It lost its role as a parish church in 1985 and fell into disrepair before becoming the site for illegal raves. In 2000 the building was granted a reprieve by an Oslo-based record company (Kirkelig kulturverksted) and converted into an unusual cultural venue that’s also part museum of ecclesiastical art.
Kulturkirken Jacob is a neo-Gothic church, typical of many in Scandinavia. It is known for its surprisingly large capacity (up to five hundred worshipers) and excellent acoustics. As a result, the church has forged a reputation as a venue for cultural events – hence the name ‘kulturkirken’.
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On 18 February 2000, after14 years of hard work, the church was resurrected and reopened in its new format, a professional cultural arena, still with strong ties to Lutheran Christianity and with the best sound and lighting system you are likely to find in any church.
The church is named after the Apostle James (the Great), in Norwegian language, Apostelen Jacob. The building hosts concerts, art exhibitions and plays. Many events carry a religious context, but the church is keen to promote local and global art and culture, regardless of its religious ties.
The altar piece of the building was painted in Rome 1880-81 by Eilif Peterssen and shows the adoring shepherds. In the porch hangs a relief of the Archangel Michael. Its neo-Gothic colonnaded interior still retains its original carved woodwork and the apse is now a softly candlelit venue for performances of contemporary dance, drama, and concerts.
Galleries are held in a 250 square meter exhibition room, with a bar attached. The church’s main hall, 18 meters in height, has proved a popular concert venue. While the church may look like many others around Oslo, what goes on inside the redeveloped building make it a unique attraction.
Depending on preferences, the church can provide anything from small intimate settings to a grand, scenic concert hall housing as many as 530 guests. Every Sunday night at 10pm from September through April there is a special Jacob mass in flickering candlelight where professional musicians collaborate to create a church service unlike any other.
Sound and lighting play a big role in these services, which has run continuously since the church reopened 20 years ago. The church is one of the few pure churches of culture, with performances of theater, dance and other cultural expressions. The basement has showrooms for exhibitions.
Be sure and check out the calendar of events on their website.
All images © Kulturkirken Jakob
Church of Culture in Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg