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BUILDING IDEAS: New permanent exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture

Press Release   •   Sep 16, 2014 09:22 BST

How have architectural theories evolved over the past two hundred years? And how have the methods and styles used by architects influenced and changed our architectural culture and history? These questions form the basis of the National Museum – Architecture’s very first permanent exhibition based on the museum’s own collection, set to open on 19 September.

The exhibition “BUILDING IDEAS: From the Architecture Collection, 1830 to the Present” displays a selection of architectural ideas from the 1830s until today. The material has been culled from the National Museum’s collection, which consists of several hundred thousand drawings and objects. Some of the works on display are part of Norway’s built landscape, while others never left the architects’ drawing boards.

Architecture begins with ideas
With contributions from such major architects as Henrik Bull, Sverre Fehn, Harald Hals, Jan & Jon, Arne Korsmo, Magnus Poulsson, Snøhetta, and Erling Viksjø, the new permanent exhibition at the National Museum explores the connections between architectural ideas and architecture in its realized, built form.

“Architecture begins with ideas,” notes exhibition curator Jérémie McGowan. “It’s about being able to envision possibilities, work out creative solutions, and visualize everything from a tiny detail to an entire city. The exhibition deals with this aspect of architecture and reveals the processes that underlay various architectural ideas, some realized and some not.”

The audience creates new connections
Architectural drawings from the past two hundred years are being shown on mobile display units along the walls, units that the audience can shift around to create new historical and stylistic connections. Models will be displayed on work tables, where visitors are invited to play around with some of the tools used by the architects themselves, such as sketchbooks, drawing machines, and building blocks for modelling.

An “idea bank” from the 1900s lives onArchitects find inspiration from the world around them, and inspiring pictures and references are collected over time to become an architect’s personal “idea bank”. One of the exhibition’s highlights is one such idea bank – or rather, idea chest – from the Norwegian architectural firm Bjercke & Eliassen (1914–1960). The chest contains over 1,600 postcards, prints, and photographs from Norway, Scandinavia, and Europe that were either collected by the architects themselves or sent to them by friends and colleagues.

The chest is part of an interactive installation where the public’s pictures, shared via Instagram, are shown together with objects from the chest. The goal is for the public’s photographs to cast the historical material in a new light and help the chest to live on.

A visionary city model

A key element of the exhibition is a 34 m2 city model. In 1923 work began on a large plaster cast model of Oslo, led by the architect and city planner Harald Hals. The model was completed in 1930, but was revised several times until 1940. One part fact and one part fiction, the model is a shifting collage that merges fragments of an existing, historical city with suggestions for future streets, buildings, and neighbourhoods. Hals’s model will be on display in the Ulltveit-Moe Pavilion throughout the remainder of 2014.

The exhibition features a wide-ranging programme of events, including the Hals’s City Model series, where several well-known urban planning experts invite the public along on guided tours focusing on Hals’s Oslo model. The museum has also planned a number of family tours followed by exciting, kid-friendly activities in the studio. The focus here is also on urban planning, based on the special “City Planners” programme developed by the architectural firm Brendeland & Kristoffersen in collaboration with the National Museum. See the entire event programme here:

Further information
Eva Engeset, press contact, eva.engeset@nasjonalthe tel.:+0047 469 50 01 02.

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