History

We have been hosting Norway’s biggest exhibition successes for nearly a century, including 40 years at the Sjølyst centre in Oslo. During our first half-century, we played a big role in the development and presentation of Norway’s business sector both at home and abroad.
The Fashion Show flourished with us for several decades. The photo above shows how women were supposed to look in 1970.
The Fashion Show flourished with us for several decades. The photo above shows how women were supposed to look in 1970.
1918:

An exhibition committee is appointed at the initiative of Norway’s business sector, and brings together representatives from the major Norwegian industry associations. Its job is to develop plans for a Norwegian trade fair organisation. At this time, in the wake of the First World War, Norway faces the threat of being flooded with foreign goods.

Norges Varemesses første logo
Our first logo.



Akershus Festning
At Akershus Castle.

1920:

1920: The first Norwegian national trade fair is staged at Akershus Castle in the heart of Oslo on 5-12 September 1920. HM King Haakon performed the official opening. With 280 exhibitors, 8 000 registered buyers and 53 000 visitors, this event proves a successful combination of product presentation, business and popular festival. The national trade fair thereafter takes place annually, circulating between in Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen or Stavanger.

Det første arrangementet, 1920 
Visitors at the first trade fair on 5 September 1920.

Messeplassen, Akershus Festning i 1923 
The exhibition venue at Akershus Castle in 1923.

1925:

We become an association, with members from the most important Norwegian industry associations.

1962:

We move from Akershus Castle to a purpose-built exhibition centre at Sjølyst in western Oslo. The 14th national trade fair in 1958 was the last at the Castle, and Rolf Stranger – mayor of Oslo and our chair – laid the foundation stone for the new building at Sjølyst in August 1959. HM King Olav opens the 15th national trade fair on 3 May 1962 as the first event at the dedicated exhibition centre. The number of shows expands hugely after the move, from three in 1962 to no less than 24 in 1970.

I 1962 flyttet Norges Varemesse til Sjølyst 
The exhibition centre in the spring of 1962.

1963:

The national policy is discontinued, and we also begin to organise exhibitions which include foreign exhibitors.

1964:

This year’s motor show becomes our best-attended event of all time, with 172 000 visitors.

Bilutstillingen i 1964 trakk 172.000 besøkende 
The original entrance on the eastern side of the building during the popular motor show in 1964.

1970:

Activities expanded in the early 1970s. The organisation is built up, and the number of events increases. During these years, the basis is laid and developed for a number of the shows which now rank among our leading exhibitions.

Dronning Sonja på messebesøk 
HRH Crown Princess Sonja visits the Agricultural Fair at Sjølyst in 1977.


Messevertinner 
Female staff at Nor-Shipping in 1971, when exhibition hostesses were all the rage.


Moteriktig på motemessen i 1970 
The Fashion Show in the spring of 1970, presenting some of the hottest garments of the day.


Moteriktige herremenn på motemesse i 1976 
The Fashion Show in the spring of 1976, displaying the suit for young men influenced by European styles.


Fra båmessen i 1971
The Norwegian Boat Show (Sjøen for Alle) has become a real harbinger of spring. Pleasure boats were smaller and cheaper once, as at the 1971 show.


1973:

 The Ra reed boat in which Thor Heyerdahl attempted to cross the Atlantic is in very poor condition when it arrives in Norway, and the city has nowhere to put it. We accordingly make our D Hall available. The boat is restored by Indians from Lake Titicaca in Peru, who live and eat in the building during the work.

Sivbåten RA ble restaurert i D-hallen i 1973
Model of the Ra II reed boat.


1981:

We become a foundation, after being an association since 1925.

Kong Olav kaster glans over Nor-Shipping i 1981 
HM King Olav arrives at Nor-Shipping in 1981.


1984:

Our Sjølyst exhibition centre is hit by a big fire. But the Norwegian Boat Show goes ahead as planned just 10 days afterwards. Restoration work, including a new entrance, is completed the following year, and makes it possible to stage several events simultaneously. Space expands by 3 000 square metres, the restaurant is positioned over the new entrance and the Rica chain takes over the catering service.

Fra brannen i 1984 
The Sjølyst centre is damaged by fire in 1984.


Administrasjonen, 1984 
Our administration team in 1984.


1989:

A new exhibition building and multi-storey car park is completed. The Sjølyst centre becomes by far the largest exhibition facility in Norway and serves as a landmark at the western entrance to Oslo – both day and night.

Norges Varemesse på Sjølyst sett fra E18 om natten 
The Sjølyst exhibition centre.

1991:

We have our record year, with 5 300 exhibitors and 575 000 visitors. 

Sosialminister Tove Veierød på messebesøk i 1991 
Tove Veierød, minister of health and social affairs, visits the dental association’s stand during the health exhibition in 1991.

1992:

We acquire a new conference centre. Our whole facility now covers 65 000 square metres, including garages, with the exhibition halls accounting for 24 000 square metres.

1999:

The highest number of events in a single year – 42.

2002: After 40 years at Sjølyst, we move in August to new premises in Lillestrøm just outside Oslo and establish Norway’s most important meeting place. Our ultra-modern exhibition and congress centre covers no less than 32 000 square metres, including 32 000 square metres of exhibition space. The facility has associated hotel accommodation run by the Thon group, and meets all present-day international exhibition needs.

I 2002 flyttet Norges Varemesse inn i nye, praktfulle lokaler i Lillestrøm 
Our new exhibition centre in Lillestrøm.


H.M. Kong Harald foretar den offisielle åpningen 4. september 2002 
HM King Harald undertakes the official opening on 4 September 2002.

We are currently a foundation with a board and council comprising representatives from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, the Enterprise Federation of Norway, Innovation Norway, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, the Ministry of Trade and Shipping, and the Federation of Norwegian Agricultural Cooperatives.

We staged some 1 050 exhibitions while at Sjølyst, attracting a total of 15 million visitors.

2006 We acquire Oslo Spektrum in the centre of the capital to strengthen our business. Both this arena and the Lillestrøm centre host exhibitions, concerts, conferences, congresses and other events.  

2008 The biggest exhibitions and organisers want more space for their events. So we expand with the construction of Hall E, completed on 1 December. Our administration could move from leased premises in the adjacent Thon Arena Hotel to the first floor of the new Hall.
2011 Siv Lunde Kolrud is appointed as our new managing director in succession to Stig Nitter Foss, who devoted 25 years to ensuring good years for our business.
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