Arts and culture

Norway has a vibrant arts and culture sector that has deep historical roots. Today, as in the past, many Norwegian artists and other cultural professionals find inspiration beyond Norway’s national borders.

Norwegian art and other forms of cultural expression have won international recognition and a number of Norwegian artists, writers and musicians rank among the best in the world. Norwegian architecture, design, music, literature and films are finding their way to other countries, and are raising Norway’s profile abroad.

The Government aims to provide a good framework for ensuring quality, breadth and diversity in the cultural sector. Internationalisation of Norwegian arts and culture has increased awareness of, and interest in, Norway as a nation of cultural innovation and knowledge. Through various support schemes and different forms of project cooperation, the Norwegian Government helps Norwegian artists and cultural professionals to participate on the international stage, thus enabling them to bring new ideas and inspiration back to Norway.

  • Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is one of the world’s most widely performed dramatists, while Jon Fosse is one of the most widely performed living dramatists.
  • Edvard Munch (1863-1944) captured his own anguish – and arguably the suffering of the human condition – in his iconic painting The Scream. Today, Tori Wrånes creates a whole world of images through sculpture, performance, music and drama.
  • Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was a National Romantic composer who revolutionised the music of his day. Today, Kygo is revolutionising electronic dance music, Mari Boine is mixing traditional Sami chanting song (joik) with elements of jazz, and Black Metal has become one of Norway’s largest cultural exports. 



“… one of the leading figures in European jazz, helping to forge an identity distinct from the music’s American roots.”

David Honigmann, Financial Times on saxophonist Jan Garbarek

Deeyah Khan is a film director, record producer and human rights defender. In 2016, she was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom.

Among the architecture firms that have made their mark abroad is Snøhetta, the firm behind the Oslo Opera House, the Library of Alexandria and the 9/11 memorial pavilion at Ground Zero in New York City.

A great many Norwegian books have been translated and published abroad. For example, Karl Ove Knausgård’s books have been translated into 30 languages, and Jo Nesbø is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers.