The oldest art in KODE’s collections tells fascinating stories about Europe and Norway.

Follow the city’s own art collection through several centuries, from the oldest paintings in the collection up to the 1900s. In the oldest part of the collection you can experience religious motifs, stately portraits and bustling crowds in Dutch genre paintings. Immerse yourself in magnificent depictions of Norway’s mountains and fjords in art from the 1800s – these can also include evocative scenes from everyday life. Norwegian ‘golden age artists’ such as Christian Krohg, Harriet Backer and Frits Thaulow are represented with works that offer, among other things, realistic depictions of poor neighbourhoods in Kristiania (Oslo), women’s everyday lives, woodcutters, the joys of sea bathing and lively trade at Bergen’s fish market.

A separate section is devoted to the nineteenth-century master J.C. Dahl and his students. The amazing story of Dahl, who came from a poor, underprivileged family but became a professor of painting in continental Europe, is also a story of how the Norwegian art scene came to be established after 1814. Several pictures in this exhibition are not only painted by Dahl but also donated by him from his private art collection. Dahl functioned as an advisor when the collection was first established, particularly for purchases of works from Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, the German-speaking regions and England – all nations with rich cultural heritage.

The objective for part of this collection was to give Bergen’s inhabitants cultural insight and to present artists and craftspersons with superlative examples to emulate. The collection was intended to promote a European ideal of taste and to be an instrument for educating citizens and ennobling their character. Education and offering visitors first-hand experiences with art are still basic objectives for today’s museum. In this way, the legacy of the first founders of Norway’s modern institutions remains alive.