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Home » Thordis Arrhenius, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway

Thordis Arrhenius, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway



Mediated Architecture- the exhibition as discursive field; the Swedish Architectural Museum 1968-1988

At what point in history does architecture enter the museum, and with which
objectives? This paper considers the strategies of exhibition employed in the Swedish architectural museum in the period 1968- 1988 asking which role the architectural exhibition has played in constructing a history and canon of Swedish architecture. In architectural terms the period 1966-1988 is interesting, as it constitutes both reassessment and historicisation of the Swedish modernist heritage in architecture. Often characterised in terms of a turn away from modern architecture, this is also the period were modernist architecture enters the museum as a collectible and somewhat desirable object. This is expressed not least in a new interest in the late 1970s to collect, categorise and display architectural drawings and models from the first part of the twentieth century. This new ‘exhibitionistic’ relation to architectural representation is one aspect that this paper considers in relationship to the emerging postmodern debate in Scandinavia with the working hypothesis that the opening of the Architectural Museum in 1962 must be understood as a postmodern project in itself. Comparing a set of early ‘pamphlet’ exhibitions produced by the Arkitekturmuseet in the late 1960´s: Klara Färdiga (1967), Arkitektur Struktur (1968) and Staden i Retur 1969 with the more form orientated early 1980’s exhibitions: ’Mannerismer’, ’Villa Lante i Huvudet’ and ’Nordisk Klassicism 1910-1930’ and the canonizing exhibitions on Celsing (1980) Asplund and Lewerenz (1985), the paper speculates on the museum’s historiographical role; and on how these exhibitions wrote and re-wrote Swedish architectural history.

thordis_arrhenius_200_0Thordis Arrhenius is an architect and professor in Architectural History and Theory at the Institute of Form, Theory and History, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. She teaches theory of conservation and architecture, the masters design studio Re-Store and the post-professional masters in conservation and urbanism. She is a founding member of Oslo Centre for Critical Architectural Studies (OCCAS) and leader of the four-year international research project Place and Displacement: Exhibiting Architecture (Norwegian Research Council 2011-14). Together with the Architectural Museum in Stockholm she is starting up the research project Mediated Architecture that looks into the exhibition as a discursive field within the Swedish Architectural Debate 1968-1988. Arrhenius has published widely on architecture in magazines such as Journal of Architecture, Agora, AA-files, Future Anterior, and the Nordic Journal of Architectural Research. Her book The Fragile Monument was published by Artifice books on architecture/ Black Dog Publishing, London in 2012.

Thordis Arrhenius, Architect, Ph.D
Professor in Architectural History and Theory
Institute of Form, History and Theory
Oslo School of Architecture and Design


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