The building and location
Haugar Vestfold Art Museum is located in the old Maritime College in the centre of Tønsberg. This impressive brick building, the work of architects Bjerke & Eliassen, was built in 1918-21. Four years later it was awarded the A. C. Houen Prize for outstanding architecture. For the façade the architects collaborated with sculptor Wilhelm Rasmussen, who decorated it with 12 caryatids in larvikite quarried locally at Brottsø. They depict exotic races mariners might expect to meet on their voyages. High above the town, the museum’s location is both beautiful and historic, situated between the Haugating, the assembly place for the Viking council, and two burial mounds. According to the saga history of Snorri Sturluson the two sons of Harald Fairhair, Olaf and Sigrød, are buried in the mounds after dying at the hands of their brother Eric Bloodaxe at Haugar in the spring of 934.
Founding and organisation
The museum came into being on 1. January 1993 as a foundation established by Vestfold County Council and host municipality Tønsberg. From its opening in September 1995 the museum was run by the foundation board, and from 1. January 1998 by the county council, while the collection remained in the ownership of the foundation. Since 2005 the museum has received state subsidies. In 2013 Tønsberg Municipality supports the museum with a sum equivalent to ca. 12% of its budget of 12.8 million crowns. Vestfold County supports the museum with 60% (7.2 million) and the state with 26%. The institution’s own income is at 6%. On 1. July 2009 the museum became part of Vestfoldmuseene IKS. The building is owned by the County.