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History and architecture

History and architecture



Back in 1989, when the Nordic Watercolour Association was first founded, there were dreams of creating a place for Nordic watercolour art, artistic work, research and courses in watercolour techniques, paper and pigment.  The Watercolour Association asked 40 coastal communities from Oslo to Copenhagen if they wanted to contribute to making the dream come true.

One of the municipalities that expressed their interest in housing this center for watercolour art was the municipality of Tjörn. One condition was that the museum should be built in beautiful nature, close to water. Tjörn won in 1995 and was selected as The Nordic Watercolour Museum's future home. In the same year, The Nordic Watercolor Museum's Friends Association was formed and the following year, the foundation of the museum was formed by the Nordic Watercolour Association and the municipality of Tjörn.

In 2000, the center for watercolour was completed and on 17 June, The Nordic Watercolour Museum was inaugurated. Since then, the museum has had more than three million visits and attracts people from all continents.

The construction of The Nordic Watercolour museum began in 1999 and was completed the following year.
The museum and the guest studios seen from above, in the winter of 2018. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson


When The Nordic Watercolour Museum was to be built, the largest architectural competition in Scandinavia to date was announced. 386 architectural proposals were submitted and the proposal called Mötet ("The Meeting") by Niels Bruun and Henrik Corfitsen from Denmark won. The proposal included a museum building on the water's edge and five guest studios built on concrete pillars in the water. Construction began in 1999 and was completed the following year.

The museum building has an appearance that blends well into its environment. The falu-red walls on the façade match the surrounding buildings, while the ferrous sulphate on the guest studio walls interacts with the colour play of the cliffs. The inner structure of the museum is in concrete and steel. In addition to the falu-red, upright wooden panel, with touches of blue and gray. The building is functional and meets the requirements necessary to store and preserve art on paper. The museum is connected to the guest studios on Bockholmen on the other side of the water by a wooden bridge.

The location of the entrance allows the premises to be used for events and restaurant visits, even when the exhibitions are closed. The total area of the house is 3 362 sqm (after expansion in 2012). The interior designer at the original construction was Karin Nyrén and recurring materials in the interior are concrete, elm and soaped spruce floors.

From the jury's statement: 

"The building is sited along the water's edge and partially out in the water; the encroachment on the surrounding countryside has been reduced to a minimum. An independent and professional approach to the use of traditional building materials characterizes the proposal, which blends well into the existing buildings in the proximity"

Furthermore, the jury noted that the fact that the guest studios was placed on Bockholmen, which was not a requirement in the competition announcement, on the other side of the water “creates a link across the channel thus ensuring that the watercolour museum is an integral part in this spatial arrangement.”

In 2012, the museum was expanded, according to the original plans. The architects behind the expansion were Tengbom.

Drawing of the museum's exhibition halls, scale 1: 200