Sigurd Ibsen had promised his parents to keep the furnishings from "the red drawing room". The furniture from that room and most of the paintings were taken along to Villa Ibsen in Suisi near Bolzano in Italy, where Sigurd Ibsen lived until his death in 1930. The interior went out of the family´s possession in 1968 when the place was sold to Italians. The furniture was, with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, bought back in 2002. The paintings are still to be found in Villa Ibsen, but the Ibsen Museum has with the assistance of Ibsen´s great grandchild, the actor Joen Bille, been granted the right of pre-emption.
The mayor of Kristiania proposed having the interior preserved in the apartment on Arbins gate, but the initiative was too late in coming. The city executive took contact with the owners regarding what it would cost to purchase the building. The politicians thought that NOK 300,000 was too expensive. The municipality therefore deposited the furnishings of the bedroom and the study at the Norwegian Folk Museum. The study was reconstructed and exhibited with all of the original objects while the bedroom, with Bergliot Ibsen´s approval, was loaned to Skien to be exhibited along with the library at the Brekke estate.
Knut Wigert and the National Museum Henrik Ibsen (Nasjonalmuseet Henrik Ibsen)
Ibsen´s apartment on Arbins gate was used as office space until the "Nasjonalmuseet Henrik Ibsen" was formed on the initiative of the actor Knut Wigert in June 1990. With a recognised Ibsen-interpreter at the lead, the plans received a great deal of media attention.
The Oslo City Council on 27 July 1990 passed the following resolution: "Under the condition that a permanent Ibsen Museum is established at Arbinsgt. 1, the municipality of Oslo approves the transfer of Ibsen´s study to Arbinsgate. More detailed conditions, hereunder satisfactory agreements pertaining to insurance, professional museum supervision, etc. must be contracted before such transfer can take place."
Autumn 1990 several readings and performances were organised in Ibsen´s apartment. At this time the museum had no facilities but received furniture and donations from private persons, financial support from foundations and sponsorship from trade and industry.
On 15 April 1991 the board was reconstituted after both Oslo municipality and the University had appointed their representatives. The members were Wigert (chairman), former Minister of Culture Langslet and Erling Skjørshammer (Oslo municipality). The foundation´s finance committee comprised the former Prime Minister Syse and Sørheim. A Friends of Ibsen federation was also formed led by Tove Munch. The Friends of Ibsen organised a series of lectures and readings.
In 1992 restoration of the apartment was commenced with architect Treider as project manager. An antiquarian building study was done with the assistance of the Norwegian Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings. In the course of the work several traces of the original apartment were uncovered but there were unfortunately no available resources to enable follow-up of all findings and one had to be satisfied with a partial restoration.
The Norwegian Folk Museum
On the request of the Ministry of Culture, the foundation and the Norwegian Folk Museum on 15 March 1993 formed an agreement regarding operations of the Ibsen Museum. When the agreement was signed, Minister of Culture Åse Kleveland could announce that the Ministry of Culture would also cover the rental costs of the fourth floor of the building, which was to be used for public-oriented activities and administration. On 4 January 1994 the museum opened its doors for the public with daily tours, eventually also with evening arrangements such as lectures and performances.
The Ibsen Museum is today a section of the department of cultural history at the Norwegian Folk Museum. The Ibsen Museum closed in February 2005 for a complete restoration of Ibsen´s apartment and to expand with new exhibition premises beside Ibsen´s apartment. The museum was reopened on the hundred-year anniversary of Ibsen´s death and the number of visitors has increased four-fold.
The Ibsen Museum´s personnel
Head of Museum
Bergljot Øyrehagen Geist
Cleaning Assistant Vipa Johansen.
Karen Elisabeth Dobloug, Katrine Eide, Pernille Østensen Fjeld, Klara Furuberg, Inger-Johanne Molven, Marte Marie Ofstad, Frida Skatvik and Kjersti Smedstad.