An internationally acclaimed contemporary-art gallery is not what I was expecting to find on Norway’s remote and rugged Lofoten Islands, where for the tiny population of fishermen—albeit millionaire fishermen—cod is God.

We have been hugging the base of granite mountains—accessible by road from the mainland only since 2007—driving through sheets of rain and hail, trying to navigate and, when we can, admire one of Norway’s more otherworldly designated scenic routes.