The site that was built in 1911 had a 194-seat capacity and was embellished by the local artist Birger Dahl. His paintings were then transferred to the extended building in 1926. The paintings, which originally adorned the interior, are still in municipal ownership. Two of them hang in the town committee chamber, one is in the museum and one is to be found in the cinema auditorium at the gymnastics hall. Two others are in storage. Birger Dahl (1882-1936) was the editor of Vardø-posten, an artist and author. He wrote the novel Kommandanten og hans by (The Commander and his Town), and from 1916 until his death in 1936 he was also a journalist for Norges handles- og sjøfartstidende (Norway’s merchant and shipping news). He was active in the Scouting movement and has had one of the streets in town named after him.

The Old Cinema was for several generations a significant institution in Vardø. The cinema was also very important for visiting fishermen. Vardø was subject to an extremely destructive bombing raid in 1944, but Bio-teateret survived. When the Germans initially retreated south, during the autumn of 1944, the cinema was used as a central news point. On 26 December 1944, the cinema manager arranged a screening. The programme included the American film “Jesse James”, which had lain ‘under cover’ in the loft throughout the war. Together with a Swedish film, it was screened throughout the winter until Norway was declared a free country in the spring of 1945.