Skien joined the ICORN family in 2006 by initiative of the head of the public library Ove Gaathaug and representatives from the municipality. Since then, the city has hosted 4 guest writers, three of whom are still living there: one poet, one cartoonist and one journalist, novelist and literary critic. Skien is a city and municipality in Telemark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Grenland. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Skien. Skien is also the administrative centre of Telemark county.
Archaeological findings date the founding of Skien city to before 1000 A.D. Back then, the city was a meeting place for inland farmers and sailing traders, and also a shipping harbor for whetstones from Eidsborg (inland Telemark). The settlement can be traced back to the 11th century, and Gimsøy Abbey, the first nunnery in Norway, was founded here in the 12th century. Skien was given formal commercial town rights by the Norwegian Crown in 1358.
Skien is the birthplace of Henrik Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906), probably the most important writer to emerge from Norway. Many of Ibsen's plays are set in an unnamed provincial town that suggests Skien. The former Ibsen family homestead at Venstøp just outside Skien was established as the Ibsen Museum in 1958. The Ibsen Museum has now been incorporated into the multi-site Telemark Museum, which includes several other historical sites.
Skien is surrounded by beautiful scenery and offers amazing hiking and walking areas. The Telemark Canal connects Skien to Dalen in the southern part of Norway by linking several long lakes in the Skien watershed through a series of 18 locks.
Ibsenhuset is the local culture and conference center in Skien. It also houses concerts by international and national artists, opera, theatre and other cultural events. Skien kunstforening has a department in Ibsenhuset, and the local culture school and library are also located in the area. The venue is also home to the regional symphony orchestra, Grenland Symfoniorkester.
Teater Ibsen is the city theatre, and is still used for small productions.
Skien Church is the largest church in Telemark county, and is famous for its two twin towers and great organ. The church hosts several concerts each year.
Spriten Project Space was established in 2007 in a former rubbing alcohol factory in Skien as part of the project Kunstnerbyen Skien. Skien municipality has established an Artist in Residence-programme, and has been renting 1.100 m2 in the lower parts of the building since 2007. 12 artists now rent their studio space at Spriten. The building also houses a production hall, digitally equipped project room and is furnished to exhibit art projects within a broad specter of genres. The main goal when establishing Spriten is for the municipality of Skien to secure that artists in the region have decent work terms and to make it easier for professional artists to live and work in Skien.