Kon-Tiki Museum Proposal
Bringing Thor Heyerdahl's heritage and vision into the future


Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture


In the fall of 2020, Snøhetta completed a feasibility study for the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway, aiming to renew the museum in line with Thor Heyerdahl's adventurous spirit, the explorer's drive to promote intercultural understanding and tolerance, his respect for our natural resources, and his unremitting fight for conservation of healthy marine environment for the world's oceans. Set to open in 2025, the revitalization of the existing building, together with its new expansion, will let visitors experience and explore an unparalleled cultural heritage that is reflected in the context of today.

Technical details

Installation & Commissions, Renovation & Expansion, Museum & Gallery
Design Proposal
Oslo, Norway
Existing: 3.080 m² Expansion: 491 m²

The Boy Who Never Lost His Adventurous Spirit

As a young boy, Heyerdahl was intensely interested in nature and animals. The new Kon-Tiki Museum aims to spark this same 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. Its unprogrammed space makes the garden well-suited for larger events and gatherings. The surrounding areas represent wild and untreated nature, perfect for children's play and explorations.

Split in two

The centered expansion of the museum splits the existing building in two, with Kon-Tiki and Ra II on each side. The direction boldly follows the original building upwards on its iconic triangular shape. The wooden wedge stretches as a sail with the wind, establishing a connection between the urban front court and the garden oasis. The sail unfolds towards the sky and leads the way forward, symbolizing Heyerdahl's travels focused on close collaboration between people and nature.

The museum's new centerpiece holds a sizeable 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.

Photo: Mir

A Pioneer in Nature Conservation

Dedicated to preserving nature and concerned with overconsumption, Heyerdahl was enthusiastic about creating a more sustainable world. Therefore, ambitious sustainability targets have been set for the new museum. In alignment with the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, Snøhetta aims to reduce the building's total CO2 emissions using energy-efficient materials, reuse, and a holistic view of the lifecycle of the building. With its multi-purpose auditorium and outdoor spaces, the new museum aims to transmit Heyerdahl's thoughts and bring his heritage and vision into the future.