Norway's 1,108 public libraries had 20.5 million volumes in 1997. Oslo University Library (founded in 1811), Norway's principal research library, is also the national library; it has over two million volumes in its central library and total holdings of4.7 million volumes, including those in institute libraries. Since 1882, copies of all Norwegian publications have had to be deposited in the national library; since 1939, copies have been deposited at Bergen and Trondheim as well. Bergen University Library has over one million volumes, largely devoted to the natural sciences. The library of the Scientific Society in Trondheim, founded in 1760, is the country's oldest research library and has over one million volumes, including 330,000 pictures and UNESCO and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) documents. The Tromsø Museum Library has been organized to make it the research library for the north. There are technical and specialized libraries at many research institutes and higher educational centers. State archives are kept in Oslo, and there are record offices for provincial archives at Oslo, Kristiansund, Stavanger, Bergen, Hamar, Trondheim, and Tromsø.
The first municipal libraries were founded in the late 18th century. By law every municipality and every school must maintain a library; each such library receives financial support from state and municipality. Regional libraries also have been created. A special library service is provided for ships in the merchant navy, and a floating library service provides books to fishermen-farmers living in the sparsely populated regions.
There are natural history museums in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø. Oslo, Lillehammer, and Bergen have notable art collections. A traveling "national gallery" was established in 1952. The most important museums in Norway are those dealing with antiquities and folklore, such as the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo. Oslo has a unique collection of ships from the Viking period. Open-air museums in Oslo and elsewhere show old farm and other buildings, as well as objects of Norwegian historical and cultural interest. Also in Oslo are the International Museum of Children's Art; the Munch Museum, displaying the works of Edvard Munch, Norway's most famous artist; Norway's Resistance Museum, detailing the country's occupation during World War II; and the Viking Ship Museum. Among Norway's newer museums are the Astrup Fearnley Fine Arts Museum (1993), which features Modern art; the National Museum of Contemporary Art (1990); and the Stenerson Museum (1994), which exhibits paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. All three museums are in Oslo.
On 12 February 1994, Edvard Munch's The Scream was stolen from the National Art Museum in Oslo. It was found undamaged in a hotel in May 1994.