The Stenersen Collection
The greatest addition to the museum in many years came in the form of a large donation from the financier and art collector Rolf Stenersen. In 1971, he sold his art collection to the city of Bergen at a prize a mere tenth of the collection’s real value. Some of the highlights in Stenersen’s collection include important oeuvres by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, CoBrA artists such as Asger Jorn and Pierre Alechinsky, Corneille and Egill Jacobsen, and also representatives of the post-war period’s different artistic movements – among them Victor Vasarely, Nicolas de Staël, Karl Dahmen and Rufino Tamayo. With these works, Stenersen’s collection gave the museum a marked frame of reference within the international Modernist movement.
One of the preconditions for the donations from Rolf Stenersen was that the city must set up a new building for the collections. This was achieved by erecting a new edifice right next to the Bergen Fine Art Association, drawn by the architect Sverre Lied. The city made the land available for free, whereas the purchase of the collection and the financing of the building itself were made possible with the help of individual citizens, the Arts Council of Norway and donations from the private business community in Bergen. The art collection was established as a separate foundation and now owns both the artworks and the building.