The Foundation has a particular interest in the visual arts, reflecting the interest and expertise of its founder, Nicolai Tangen. It also seeks to develop close relationships with a limited number of partner institutions, primarily in the UK and Norway, with which projects are jointly envisaged and realised.


SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum

The SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum is a regional art institution, located in Kristiansand, Norway, which has collected high quality arts and crafts objects from its local area since its formation in 1995. SKMU has developed a wide range of educational activities including the establishment of a successful museum for children, The Children’s Art Museum, within its premises.

The Foundation has made a number of grants to SKMU to be used for the purchase of Norwegian glass, ceramics and similar art works, dating from 1930 onwards, for public display. It has also supported an initiative by SKMU to cover the cost of transport to bring 10,000 school children to the museum.

AKO Kunststiftelse

The Foundation is undertaking a major programme of support for AKO Kunststiftelse, a Norwegian non-profit foundation whose objective is to advance the public’s access to Nordic visual arts from 1900 onwards. To achieve this objective AKO Kunststiftelse is building a collection of such art for public exhibition and will give SKMU the right to use this collection free of charge and on a perpetual basis.

It is planned that the public exhibition of the collection will be in a new museum, the Kunstsilo Museum, in Kristiansand. The establishment of this new museum is being undertaken by SKMU in cooperation with the Kristiansand municipal authorities, the Norwegian government and other Norwegian institutions; it is expected to open in the spring of 2022.

To date the main focus of AKO Kunststiftelse has been on building the collection while SKMU has undertaken the identification of the building to house and exhibit the collection, the recruitment of the director of this new museum, and the building out of the Museum’s organisation. The ultimate
combined vision is to create a public art collection of international importance housed in an art museum of outstanding architectural quality.

The Foundation is also supporting research into certain aspects of the collection by a doctoral candidate at the University of Agder, Norway.

The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art is an international centre for the study of the history and conservation of art and is also home to one of the finest small art museums in the world.

Its Institute of Art, a college of the University of London, is the pre-eminent centre for the study of the history of art in Europe. The Foundation has endowed an academic post for the study of European art of the 20th century, in particular, German Expressionism. The gift was made by the Foundation in honour of Dr Shulamith Behr,
Honorary Research Fellow at the Courtauld, who taught Nicolai Tangen during his MA studies there. Dr. Robin Schuldenfrei, a distinguished art history scholar specialising in the history and theory of European and American modern architecture and design, is the first appointee to this endowed post. She has made several important contributions to teaching and research at the Courtauld including launching a new MA degree, ‘Experiencing Modernism: Utopia, Politics, and Times of Turmoil’. The course is consistently popular and oversubscribed.

Courtauld Connects is a major capital project to redevelop the Courtauld’s physical premises in Somerset House, London. The objectives of Courtauld Connects are to increase access to the Courtauld and improve users’ experiences, to create the best teaching, conservation and research environment, and to preserve and reveal the Courtauld’s heritage building and collections. The Foundation has provided support for this project. For the last 2 years, the Foundation has presented an annual AKO Curatorial Prize to the winner and runners-up of a curatorial competition for graduates of the Courtauld’s MA programme ‘Curating the Arts Museum’. The AKO Curatorial Prize is the only such prize available to MA graduates in the UK.,The Foundation also supported the Courtauld’s 2014 exhibition Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude.


The Foundation was the principal supporter of the exhibition Olafur Eliasson: In real life which was on display at Tate Modern from July 2019 until January 2020. The Foundation’s connections with Eliasson’s work also include support for the charity Little Sun.

During its 6-month run, Olafur Eliasson: In real life welcomed 546,431 visitors – nearly 200,000 more than had been anticipated. It was the second most attended exhibition in Tate’s history, and just the third to exceed the 500,000 visitors mark. Tate Collective (a bespoke membership programme for 16 to 25 year olds) accounted for 58,855 visits over the course of the exhibition run, the most popular show with Tate Collective members to date. Throughout the exhibition’s run, the exhibition webpage received nearly 1.5 million page views.

Olafur Eliasson (Tate Modern 2019)


Turner Contemporary

The world’s best-known and most prestigious contemporary art prize, the annual Turner Prize alternates between Tate Britain and a regional museum or gallery. In 2019 Turner Contemporary, located in Margate, on the Kent coast, was selected to host the Turner Prize. The Foundation’s support enabled Turner Contemporary to host the event, to deliver an education programme, and to use the high profile created by the Prize to commission new works.

The exhibition attracted 141,550 visits. This made it the gallery’s most popular Autumn exhibition to date, and also the second most visited Turner Prize exhibition at any venue since the Prize was established in 1984. The 2019 Turner Prize was notable for the request made by the 4 finalists, and agreed to by the judges, that they share the Prize.

Specially devised to run alongside this year’s exhibition, more than 500 artists took part in Margate NOW, a town-wide festival of art, events, installations and performances. In London, University of the Arts (another Foundation beneficiary – see below) marked 35 years of the Turner Prize with the exhibition Counter Acts, showcasing previous winners and nominees who studied or taught at UAL.

The Foundation has agreed to be a principal supporter of the 2020 Turner Prize, to be held at Tate Britain.

University of the Arts

The University of the Arts London (UAL) is Europe’s largest specialist arts and design university. It offers courses in arts, design, fashion and communication and is attended by over 19,000 students from more than 130 countries. The Foundation has made the
following grants to UAL:

  • A grant to facilitate the launch of UAL’s Creative Computing Institute. This is a UAL-wide centre of expertise in digital and computing matters which will both have an input into art and design courses across UAL, all of which require ever-increasing
    use of digital and computing elements, and also generate new areas of study and practical outputs with real world applications.
  • A grant to kick-start the launch of a second new UAL institute, the Social Design Institute. This institute will apply design solutions to some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges to produce solutions that are actionable and deliverable.
  • Continuing support for student bursaries. The Foundation’s bursary support is now targeted at those students who have come to UAL under its ‘Insights’ programme, through which UAL seeks to recruit talented students from disadvantaged and otherwise under-represented backgrounds. This group of students will therefore include many who would expect to experience financial hardship in the absence of bursary support.

British Museum

The Foundation was the sole sponsor of the exhibition Edvard Munch: love and angst which was on display at the British Museum from April – July 2019. The exhibition, a collaboration with the Munch Museum of Oslo, Norway, included 83 works, of which nearly 50 were prints borrowed from the Munch Museum, one of the most extensive loans of prints ever made by that Museum.

The exhibition was a critical and popular success. Visitor numbers exceeded 100,000, requiring late-night opening on the final weekend to accommodate demand; 18% of those attending were first-time visitors to the Museum, in excess of the usual figure for a paid exhibition. 

During 2020 the Foundation will support two further exhibitions at the British Museum.

Library of Exile is an installation by Edmund de Waal, in which he reflects on the idea of language as migration. The installation opened in Venice in spring 2019, to coincide with the 58th Venice Biennale, and has also been seen in Dresden. A temporary white pavilion containing four vitrines of porcelain vessels, one of which has been bought by the AKO Kunststiftelse, alongside more than 2,000 books by writers from Ovid to the present day, de Waal has described it as ‘the most significant sculpture of my life’. The exterior is inscribed with the names of lost or erased libraries of the world, from the famous library at Alexandria to the recently destroyed collection in Mosul, Iraq. Library of Exile opens in March 2020.

The Arctic: culture and climate, opening in May 2020, will aim to further public understanding of the mutual relationships that unite people, their environment and the planet, at a time when the indigenous peoples of the Arctic are facing the very real possibility that the sea ice, and their world, will change dramatically, if not disappear.


Camden Arts Centre

The Camden Arts Centre is a medium-sized gallery in north London that has an established reputation for showing work by both nationally and internationally significant contemporary artists. Founded by a group of artists in 1965, the changing programme includes temporary exhibitions, artists’ residencies, and educational and family courses and other activities. The Foundation has made an unrestricted grant over 3 years.

AKO Caine Prize

The Caine Prize for African Writing was launched in 2000 by Africa 95, a UK charity, with the aim of encouraging and  highlighting the rich diversity of African writing. Now renamed the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, this is the premier African literature prize and is awarded each year to an African writer of a short story published in English. In addition to administering the prize, Africa 95 works to connect readers with African writers through a series of public events, and helps emerging writers in Africa to enter the world of mainstream publishing through the annual Caine Prize writers’ workshop which takes place in a
different African country each year. The Foundation has agreed to be the sole sponsor of the AKO Caine Prize for the three years 2020 – 2022.