The KODE museum has a long and solid history. From the time that a handful of Bergen citizens started thinking that the city ought to have a museum for the visual arts (in 1825) and artisanal handcraft (in 1887), the museum has grown in volume. Today it encompasses four large buildings by the Bergen City Park and 'Lille Lungegårds' lake, and comprises a grand total of 43,000 works of art. Since its beginning, the museum has had a range of names, ownerships, locations, and gone through various expansions. The last great change came in 2006 when Bergen Art Museum, the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art and the composers’ homes of Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull and Harald Sæverud were consolidated into one museum unity under the lead of one director, and given the name 'The Art Museums of Bergen'.
Bergen Art Museum had three buildings in Rasmus Meyers allé: Stenersen, the Rasmus Meyer Collections and Lysverket. At that point the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, located in the building Permanenten, had kept its name and location ever since the beautifully tiled edifice by the park was constructed in 1897. The name Bergen Art Museum was launched in 1999 – before that, the museum went under the name the Bergen Gallery of Visual Arts. During the course of the museum’s extensive history, the Stenersen Collection and the Rasmus Meyer Collections were also added – buildings as well as art collections. The Lysverket structure is the newest addition to the museum, and was finished in 2003.
The 17th of April 2013 heralds a new era for the museum. We made the jump to the name KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes. The use of KODE 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the banners adorning the buildings in the Bergen city centre is motivated by the hope and desire that this will help guests from both Bergen and afar to find their way to the art treasures that we’re so immensely proud of! The composers’ homes are part of KODE, but will all keep their own unique names; Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen, Harald Sæverud Museum Siljustøl and Ole Bull Museum Lysøen.
KODE can boast a wide-ranging history, but independent of both old names and locations, a unified goal of collecting, preserving, documenting, researching and displaying art and art objects is still the core of the museum operation.