The new Viking Age Museum on Bygdøy in Oslo will receive NOK 700 million in grants, but the government has opted for a scaled-down version of the original plans, according to Norwegian Broadcasting.
"I am happy that the construction can now start without more delays," museum director Håkon Glørstad told the channel.
In May, Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe (SP) announced that the costs associated with the construction of the new Viking Age Museum on Bygdøy had to be cut by NOK 1 billion. But now, it seems Borten Moe changed his position on the case.
"We have now made an overall assessment, where the alternative would be to move back to the start and start the project again. That would mean losing valuable time and the resources that have already been included in the plans," he told NRK.
Despite the NOK 700 million in grants from the Norwegian state, the museum must cut back on its planned offer to the public.
The government's grant ensures that the planned groundwork for the new museum can start as soon as practically possible. However, the construction project must still reduce costs by NOK 300 million.
"We are happy that the project is not being stopped. The government's decision means that the work of securing the unique cultural heritage can continue in full force.
"But unfortunately, the demands for budget cuts have major negative consequences for the museum's ambitions to be a world-leading museum on the Viking Age. The services aimed at children, young people, and the population of Oslo will be particularly affected. We question whether the cuts can be justified in light of the negative consequences," Glørstad stated.
The Nordic firm AART won the competition to extend the museum. Photo: AART
Lack of funding will probably lead to parts of the facility remaining unused when the doors of the Viking Age Museum open in 2026. Thus, a part of the offer will disappear or be reduced. Here are some of the expected consequences:
- The museum's planned café and restaurant will be replaced by a kiosk.
- Areas for school education will not be completed.
- Areas for new and current exhibitions will be removed.
- The auditorium and cinema will not be completed.
- Research laboratories where the public would be able to meet researchers will be put on hold.
- The room for the preservation of Viking objects will not be completed.
- The museum will be operated without office space and workplaces.
- The planned research center at the museum will be dropped.
"It is a paradox that the savings are no more than NOK 300 million when the consequences are so extensive. We must ask the question of whether a fully funded solution would not have better served the state. By cutting the financing, you risk a higher total price and a reduced opportunity to achieve the benefits from the state's investment. It is unfortunate," Glørstad added in a press release.
"The Viking ships on Bygdøy have been Norway's most visited museum for many years. The ambitions for the new museum have been to create a new world attraction, which will be of great importance for branding Norway's and Oslo's tourism industry and the state's revenue. It is a pity that the government isn't committing itself to a financial framework that immediately secures the goals and effects that the Storting has adopted," Glørstad stated.
Further expenses down the line?
The Norwegian government is allocating around NOK 3.1 billion to the new museum project, and securing the Viking Age collection is stated as a priority.
Part of the planned offer could be realized at a later date.
"The process the government is planning, unfortunately, creates uncertainty for the construction project," Glørstad stated, adding that some of the museum functions can be realized at a later date but that such a development could quickly become more expensive than what was originally planned.
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