Norway has more than 1,600 church buildings in total, and more than 60 per cent of these are either listed or protected in some other manner. Knowledge about church history, church buildings and the use of churches both in the past and the present are key fields of knowledge within NIKU’s sphere of work.

NIKU has experts on the different types of church building and possesses special expertise in the oldest church buildings: medieval stone churches and stave churches. The stave churches are among our oldest surviving wooden buildings and the construction techniques used for these buildings are archaic and in a class of their own.

NIKU has provided both the managers and owners of stave churches with advice and guidance for many years. We have also documented and surveyed these buildings. Ruins are all that remain of very many of Norway’s medieval stone churches, but around 150 of these old buildings are still standing. NIKU is an expert on these church buildings, how the buildings have developed historically, construction techniques and how they have been used and cared for over the centuries.

Most of our church buildings were erected after the Reformation, especially in the 1700s and 1800s. The churches were built in the current style of the time. Knowledge about the design and construction of these churches, and the materials used in them, is important when it comes to properly managing these valuable cultural monuments.

It was the use of the churches that, to a great extent, determined their appearance and the design of their fittings and interiors.  Liturgical changes and the reform of church services have resulted in changes to the interiors of churches, both then and now. Much has been removed and some things added. NIKU is an expert in church history and the use of churches and how this has influenced the design of interiors.