The Chinese Collection

The Chinese Collection is Norway's largest collection of Chinese art and artisanal handicraft, and numbers 4000 items.

The collection contains all kinds of Chinese art, and spans a time period ranging from the early Stone Age to the beginning of the 20th century. The collection of paintings consists of 780 works of art, among them 270 album leaves, books, and paintings used on fans and sunshades. The sculpture collection consists of ca. 100 items in white marble, sandstone and limestone. Additionally, there are a few sculptures made of bronze and clay. Objects made out of metal, porcelain, jade, lacquerware and textiles make up 1670 items. Highlights in the collections include items from the Forbidden City, and Buddhist marble sculptures and marble plinths from Imperial Summer Palace Yuan Ming Yuan, the emperor’s summer palace near Beijing.

2500 items in the Chinese Collection was donated by the adventurer and general Johan Wilhelm Normann Munthe (1864–1935). He lived in China from 1886 to 1935, and first worked for the Chinese customs agency before becoming a general in the Chinese army. He was a close friend of China’s president Yuan Shikai, who in 1915 designated himself emperor. After living in China for some years, Munthe took an interest in the country's art. He eventually built a large art collection. In 1907 he started donating some of the works to his good friend Johan Bøhg, director of the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art in Bergen. Munthe kept on collecting and donating up until his death in 1935.

The Chinese Collection exhibition is temporarily closed due to the renovation of KODE 1 and will reopen in 2020.