Ivar Aasen Centre

Ivar Aasen Centre

The Ivar Aasen Centre gives children and adults great experiences of language, literature, architecture, art and music.

Ivar Aasen (1813-1896) was the man who changed Norwegian language history. As early as in 1836, only 22 years old, Aasen had a clear opinion on how the Norwegian language should be given a written standard. He claimed that all Norwegian dialects should be the starting point for a Norwegian written standard. This led to the linguist travelling the equivalent of half way around the world, within the borders of Norway, to find the Norwegian language.

The Ivar Aasen Centre is situated on the farm where Aasen was born and raised. This is where he wrote his first words and picked his first flowers. In this museum dating back to 1898 you will find five buildings spanning four centuries and an outdoor amphitheatre at a spot where people have gathered since the 1880s, to enjoy music, song, dance and the spoken word.

The architecture of the Ivar Aasen Centre is an experience in itself. The main building from 2000 is designed by the well-known and award winning architect Sverre Fehn (1924-2009) and has been honoured with Norway’s most prestigious architectural award, Houens fonds diplom. The building is designed to interact with the landscape and the historical surroundings. Both in form and idea, the building emerges from a meeting of past, present and future. We offer guided architectural tours throughout the summer.

The exhibition invites the use of several senses, with installations on language and literature that you can look at, listen to and touch. You can look at the sheets of rough paper that Ivar Aasen never got around to using, listen to authors talk about writing, and spin a globe that shows the spread of different alphabets around the world. Knowledgeable guides will show you around the exhibition and tell you stories for wonder and contemplation.

The Ivar Aasen Centre offers a varied, exciting and unique cultural programme all year round, with something for both children and adults. The annual Norwegian Festival of Language and Arts is the highlight of the year: a celebration of the Nynorsk written culture which takes place on the last weekend of June. The festival offers everything from grand concerts to intimate literary readings, engaging talks and debates, art exhibitions and children’s events.

A bookstore, record shop and gift shop in one! This is where you will find the perfect gift for the one who has everything, or maybe a gift for yourself when you deserve a little something extra. We have a wide selection of items found only here, and a great selection of Nynorsk literature and music for both children and adults.

The café serves up simple, homemade lunch dishes and cakes, and some local specialities. When the sun is shining, the café’s outdoor sitting area is the perfect place to enjoy a good book or the latest edition of a Nynorsk newspaper. Our own locally produced cured sausage, “Tunpølse frå Åsen”, is not only on the menu in the café, but also available for purchase.

Ivar Aasen-tunet is the ideal starting-point for easy walks along sign-posted footpaths. A short walk will take you up to Høgetua, with great views over the landscape.


Translated by Kjetil Myskja

    Foto: Kib og Morits


    The main exhibition is the heart of the Ivar Aasen Centre. Over recent years, it has been changed and extended.

    Would you like to look at Ivar Aasen's very own stereoscopic pictures? Or listen to European literature read in the original language? Or perhaps you are more interested in exploring distinctive dialect features in the Scandinavian languages? In the main exhibition, you will find installations that tell you more about both Ivar Aasen and languages throughout the world.

    A unique exhibition

    Created through a unique collaboration between architect Sverre Fehn and museologist Thor Aage Gjestrum, the main exhibition contains many permanent elements. Since 2007, however, the staff at the centre have renewed much of the exhibition, adding several elements and installations. For visitors from abroad it would be especially interesting to play around with one of the three touch screens, which display more knowledge about languages worldwide and about Ivar Aasen himself.

    Most of the new installations are now presented in English as well as in Norwegian.

    The oldest museum

    In addition to the central building with the main exhibition, there are several other venues at The Ivar Aasen Centre that contribute to a broader museum experience. It is worth stopping by the Old Museum from 1898: its presence makes The Ivar Aasen Centre the oldest museum in Norway to tell the story of an individual. You can also peek inside the storehouse: the oldest building in the Centre and the only building left from the original small farm where Aasen grew up.

    Just down from The Old Museum you will find the old road where Aasen walked as a youngster. Along this grass-grown path, there is an audio installation, the content of which will be changed from time to time. In the summer and fall of 2014, visitors could hear the voice of actor Anderz Eide reading Aasen's most famous poem "The Norwegian", accompanied by the music of Johan Söderqvist.


    The aim of the main exhibition is to try to answer why it was necessary to establish a New Norwegian language (Nynorsk) in the 1800s, and why it is necessary to keep this language alive in Norway today.

    It is also important for us to invite visitors from other language areas to reflect on their own language and its position, and so gain a wider perspective on language as a phenomenon.

    In addition to the exhibits in the main building, there will often be something worth seeing in The Gallery: a small stone building that functioned as the main museum from 1946 to 1999. This is a frequent venue for art exhibitions, particularly in summer. In the summer of 2014, the internationally renowned local artist Ørnulf Opdahl exhibited paintings there.


    Translated by Kjetil Myskja