Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has revealed plans to renew the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. The new museum will be in line with Thor Heyerdahl’s adventurous spirit and drive to promote intercultural understanding and respect for our natural resources.
Located on the forested Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo, the Kon-Tiki Museum is one of Norway’s most visited museums, with more than 70 percent of its visitors coming from abroad to take part in the historic adventures of Thor Heyerdahl. Following Heyerdahl’s world-renowned, sensational Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947, the Kon-Tiki Museum was established in Oslo, Norway.
In this project with Snøhetta we are strengthening Thor Heyerdahl’s famous legacy. Heyerdahl was a resolute and fascinating man who fulfilled his dreams of exploring the world and actually living the scienceMartin Biehl, director of the Kon-Tiki Museum
The original building was built in 1957 for the Kon-Tiki raft and extended in 1978 with the RA II-part. On the technical side, especially the oldest part is in desperate need of renovation, with exposed and uninsulated concrete structures and severe heat leakage, but also water leakage in basements.
1. A new museum honoring Heyerdahl’s adventurous spirit
In the fall of 2020, Snøhetta completed a feasibility study for the Kon-Tiki Museum, aiming to renew the museum in line with Thor Heyerdahl’s adventurous spirit. Set to open in 2025, the revitalization of the existing building and its new expansion will let visitors experience and explore an unparalleled cultural heritage that is reflected in a context of today.
The Kon-Tiki Museum houses a broad range of Heyerdahl’s work, from his first trip to the Pacific Island of Fatu Hiva and the exploration of Easter Island to his journeys with Kon-Tiki, the Ra, the Ra II and the Tigris. Despite Heyerdahl’s passing in 2002, his thoughts, ideas and research vibrantly live on, both within and outside of the museum.
2. Garden created for exploration
In the true spirit of Heyerdahl, the new Kon-Tiki Museum aims to spark people’s curiosity and urge to explore, particularly among children. A large and lush green garden, surrounded by trees to both the east and the west, creates an intimate and contemplative space. The garden is created for exploration, while also being well-suited for larger events and gatherings.
The museum’s new centerpiece will hold a large multi-purpose auditorium at the tip, with spectacular views of the garden and the sky – a place dedicated for young and old alike to learn and discuss the importance of consumption reduction and address the global challenges related to our lack of focus on ocean health.
3. Explorer with a passion for nature and animals
Heyerdahl was interested in the preservation of nature, concerned by over-consumption, and passionate about creating a more sustainable world.
Snøhetta has set ambitious sustainability targets for the new museum, aiming to reduce the building’s total CO2 emissions through use of energy efficient materials, reuse and a holistic view of the life-cycle of the building.
“We carefully consider everything that can be reused. By such our aim is to avoid over-consumption and to thoughtfully preserve the uniqueness of a museum visited by 200.000 every year. Curiosity through architecture can be encouraged through creation of spaces and flows that frees enough mental space for each visitor, young and grown-up, to enjoy their own reflections as they walk along”, says Astrid Renata Van Veen, Project Leader, Architect, Snøhetta Oslo.
4. Who was Thor Heyerdahl?
Thor Heyerdahl is first and foremost known for his Kon-Tiki expedition. In 1947 Heyerdahl and his crew sailed the pacific Ocean in a light-weight balsa raft. The 101-day journey took them from Peru to the Tuamato Islands in Polynesia. The purpose was to prove Heyerdahl’s theory of ancient migration from South America to Polynesia.
In 1969 and 1970 he carried out the two Ra expeditions which, in Heyerdahl’s opinion, proved that ancient vessels would have been able to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Heyerdahl’s last great raft expedition took place in 1977-78 when he sailed around the Arabian peninsula in the reed boat Tigris. He conducted scientific expeditions to the Easter Island, Galapagos, the Maldives and to the ancient pyramids of Tucume in Peru, among other places.
The Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo (on the Bygdøy peninsula) shows the well-preserved balsa raft Kon-Tiki and the papyrus raft Ra, as well as a large collection of archeological findings from Heyerdahl’s expeditions.