- Oslo is strongly shaped by its natural setting: 68% of the municipal area is publicly accessible green space.
- The City of Oslo’s cultural policy is designed to ensure an inclusive city which promotes community cohesion.
- A new Munch Museum will open on the Bjørvika harbour front in 2020, with a larger proportion of the collection on display.
City data: Key facts
- Geographical area: 480.76 sq. km
- Total population: 673,469
- GDP (PPP) million: $50,984
With a history dating back to around 1000 AD, the city of Oslo is the capital of Norway and its political and economic centre. Oslo is strongly shaped by its natural setting: 68% of the municipal area is publicly accessible green space, surrounded as it is by the Marka forest which extends within and beyond the city. A public transport system plus major new urban architecture that works with, rather than against, the environment has created a city where tourism, sustainability and modern business have been successfully entwined. All of this has contributed to Oslo being announced as European Green Capital 2019.
The city is growing, with 670,000 people in the municipality of Oslo, and around one million people in the wider urban area. The City of Oslo’s cultural policy is designed to ensure an inclusive city which promotes community cohesion and which facilitates a diverse cultural scene and space for culture as it develops. Its assets include the Vigeland Park, the largest sculpture park in the world, which since the 1940s has displayed 200 works by Gustav Vigeland. More recently, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art has transformed a formerly polluted industrial island with a landmark museum made from glass and wood.
Several major capital projects are ongoing, particularly around the city’s harbour fronts, with a number of cultural buildings due for completion in 2020. The Deichman Library is opening as part of a major cultural quarter on the Bjørvika harbour front, with programming and spaces that will give the library social and community as well as literary uses. There is a new home for the Munch Museum, housing the world’s largest collection of Edvard Munch’s work, with many smaller cultural venues in the district. There will also be a new National Museum on the Aker Brygge harbour front housing three existing museums. However, to embed culture across the city and to sustain many smaller cultural groups that do not receive large subsidies, the City also aims to increase the use of municipal buildings, particularly schools and libraries, to provide space for out of hours cultural activity. The City also provides a limited number of studios and production spaces for professional artists below market price and a City Art Fund is used to buy and commission art for public spaces and buildings. This approach spreads art throughout the city and ensures that the public can engage with it in the course of their everyday life. Local library infrastructure is spread across the city, with one library in each district of Oslo.
Developing the cultural life and skills of children and young people is also an important focus for the city. The municipal Oslo School of Art (Kulturskolen) offers subsidised courses and training across a broad range of arts, crafts, music, theatre and dance. This offers an invaluable introduction to art and culture, and is in high demand.
By continuing to evolve its natural and cultural assets in tandem, Oslo is creating a city attractive to both residents and visitors.