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New exhibition on cultural heritage in Queen Sonja’s Art Stable

It was on Tuesday that Queen Sonja, together with Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Astrid, opened the new exhibition in Queen Sonja’s Art Stable in Oslo. The exhibition “Tradition and Inspiration” is about Norwegian cultural heritage in the royal collections.

The exhibit shows Norwegian national costumes that are used by the Norwegian Royal Family together with a selection of artworks and a variety of cultural history treasures. All have used Norwegian and Sami folk art and crafts as starting points.

A number of bunads (word used for a range of both Norwegian traditional and modern costumes) from different parts of Norway are displayed. The bunads are used by the Royal Family on official visits at home and abroad. The traditional Norwegian costumes are different. There are several hundred outfits from all parts of the country. The Norwegian royals have many of them, primarily from the regions of Norway with which they are affiliated. It is common for every historical area of Norway to have its own bunad.

In addition, there are also several valuable Norwegian paintings, which the royals own in the new exhibition. These include the painting “My grandmother’s bride-crown”, painted by Adolph Tidemand. Also, paintings by Johannes Flintoe, who painted mainly Norwegian mountains, are present.

The Royal Family arrived from the side entrance. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

Queen Sonja welcomed everyone. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The exhibit’s eye-catcher is without a doubt the two embroidered wall cloths called “Riksteppet”. The two embroidered wall cloths tell the story of King Sigurd’s journey to Jerusalem and Constantinople in 1108 – 1111. Each carpet is over 15 square metres. The two blankets have the titles “The meeting with King Baldvin” and the “The entry into Myklagard”.

It was in the early 1890s that Munthe started the work to create the two embroidered wall cloths. They were finished and shown at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 where they attracted great interest. In 1905, they were hung up at the Royal Palace in Oslo. In 2015, the carpets were cleaned and loaned to The Magic North exhibition.

In her speech, Her Majesty said: “And this can truly be said to be a most vibrant exhibition – so vivid that some of the stables are empty at the opening today – because the Crown Princess and I wear here today bunader that will be a part of the exhibit tomorrow!”

Many young girls in their own national costumes sang to the royals during the opening. Queen Sonja thought the girls were very good. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

Princess Astrid, King Harald’s sister, was also present during the opening. Several of the Princess’s clothes and belongings are exhibited. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

Royal Central’s Senior Europe Correspondent, Oskar Aanmoen was present during the opening and was able to get a peek at the exhibition before the royals arrived. Aanmoen said this about the display: “The exhibition is a good introduction to Norwegian cultural heritage. The objects in the exhibition reflect Norway in a good way during the national romantic period of the 19th century. It is not often that clothing and items from the Royal Family are put on display in this way. Therefore, this exhibition is a good symbol of the strong link between ordinary Norwegians and the Royal Family – a bond, unlike any other royal families. Everyone who is interested in Norwegian traditions or royal history should see this exhibition.”

The Crown Princess together with Princess Astrid. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

Mother and son, the Crown Prince and Queen during Tuesday’s opening. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

“Queen Sonja’s Art Stable” was opened last summer on Queen Sonja’s 80th birthday. This gallery is located in the old stable buildings in the Palace Park and has never been accessible to the public before. From now on, the building will be a new arena for art, culture and history in Oslo and is worth a visit by those visiting the city. The stable that now houses Queen Sonja’s galleries was completed in 1848 and was used as a stable for the royal horses until 1940.

It will contain various exhibitions. The previous exhibit was dedicated to Queen Maud of Norway’s photographs and Norwegian graphics. The now-ended winter exhibition was dedicated to the Norwegian Royal Family’s use of horses through the last 100 years. The third exhibition that was there this spring was modernist sculptures by the artist Kjell Erik Killi-Olsen.

If you visit Oslo during the summer, take a look. The exhibition will be open to the public from today until 2 September.

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