The new art center in the middle of Longyearbyen on Svalbard has received international attention. It is no longer just polar adventures and wild nature that characterize Svalbard. You can also experience art at a high level, in the middle of Longyearbyen, at the brand-new cultural center, Nordover (Up North), which opened at 78 degrees north last November.
“I hereby open Nordover, to connect people, to gather perspectives and to create dialogue,” said former local board leader of Longyearbyen, Christin Kristoffersen, on Sunday 27 November 2022. She had the honor of opening the extremely successful and modern art center Nordover in Longyearbyen.
In the bright and modern premises, there is a permanent Kåre Tveter art collection, temporary exhibitions, museum shop, café, cinema and youth club. Nordover collaborates with the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum and will promote exhibitions of international standard. The venue is furnished in modern Scandinavian design, and everything is planned down to the smallest detail. Project manager has been designer Tom Warner with good support from the former unit manager for culture and sport in Longyearbyen local government, Are Nundal.
Permanent Kåre Tveter art collection
The renowned and popular painter Kåre Tveter was born in Sør-Odal, in 1922 – hundred years ago. The artist lived until 2012 and was 90 years old. The now permanent Kåre Tveter exhibition was previously shown at Galleri Svalbard, which opened in 1996. Now Tveter’s art, which was given as a gift to Longyearbyen by the artist himself, flourishes even better in brand new and state-of-the-art premises.
The Svalbard store is also located here in the heart of Longyearbyen. In connection with the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, two new Tveter books have been published in 2022, including the book: Kåre Tveter, Det gåtefulle Lyset (The Mystical Light), published by the publishing house Utenfor Allfarvei, based in Harstad.
We need dialogue!
“The Arctic areas are now in a time when a peaceful and democratic common-state ambition for the Arctic is challenged by global and local effects of climate change, erosion and dramatic ecological changes in the Barents Sea and great power rivalry. We live in a demanding time. We have gone from a worldwide pandemic, closed communities and what the mayor of London called the pandemic of loneliness. Just three weeks after our country was opened, Russia invaded Ukraine and we are experiencing world wars closer to us geographically. We need tools to understand each other, to recognize and protect nature and search for the power we need to live and develop sustainability.
We must create that power, with knowledge, with solidarity and with love. We must find each other, because we need each other, we need DIALOGUE – because we are about to, and must, deal with both individual and societal dilemmas,” said Kristoffersen.
The first temporary exhibition at Nordover is entitled Dilemmas, curated by NNKM (Nordnorsk Art Museum), which shows art by invited artists using different techniques to interpret their relationship with nature.
“Art and culture have historical and identity related values for both individuals and society and are both important for habitability and for the desire to live in the Nordic areas and the Arctic,” said Kristoffersen.
She also highlighted the following: “A living democracy where everyone is free to express themselves, and where diversity, creative power and creativity are highly valued”, citing from the Culture Report 2018-2019. Museums have been given the responsibility for being democratic pillars. A pillar for participation and for the understanding of who we have collectively been, who we are, and who we want to become.
Art opens doors
“This is a responsibility that we recognize in our local government here in Longyearbyen, which is responsible for democracy at the top of the world and at the forefront of many global developmental features. And I am very pleased that the Local Board has decided to locate the youth club here as well. Because everything we do is for the citizens of the future,” she emphasized.
According to the Norwegian art historian Knut Ljøgodt, the artists’ fascination with the Arctic and the northern regions is both historically relevant and important for the development of the northern regions in relation to the situation we know today. Many of the Romantic painters participated in or were inspired by the 19th century polar expeditions, such as François Auguste Biard, Frederic Church and Edwin Landseer. The expeditions resulted both in an increasing awareness of the indigenous population in the northern regions, as well as the fact that people began to exploit the natural resources in the Arctic, initially through trade and hunting for e. g. whales and polar bears.
“Why are art and culture so important?” asks Kristoffersen. She answers: “Because it abstracts politics and diplomacy and opens other doors to community and interaction. Cultural cooperation has a great influence on the outside world and reflects the foundation of shared values on which we stand. At the same time as the eyes of the world are focused on the geopolitical development in the Arctic, the northern regions and Svalbard are becoming a spearhead in Norwegian and international art life. And we must ask good questions, to find hope and not brutality. Culture is a catalyst for new opinions, for new policies and new visions of society, which in turn will shape the development of society. We need the art as a mirror and its reflections – think along – empathize with – and as a tool for dialogue”, she emphasized.
Nordover (Up North) is the northernmost art museum in the world, in Longyearbyen, on Svalbard, near the Arctic Circle.
Opening hours are currently Friday to Sunday from 11-16.
The World’s Northernmost Art Museum (the article), written by Anne Marit Muri. Muri has a Master’s degree in social science from the University of Bergen in addition to art history from the University of Oslo. She has been an editor for various magazines for more than 20 years, including the magazine KUNST. Muri is the author of the book Kunstnerliv (Artists’ Life). Annette B. Lynne, who founded and owns Polaris Art Gallery, wanted Muri to write the book about Tveter (Kåre Tveter – The Mystical Light – Svalbard). She has been responsible for the book’s concept and text and has connected publishers, photographers, contemporary artists, etc. through her network.
All photographs © Anne Marit Muri
Translated by Tor Kjolberg