While the exhibitions are unique, the concept is always the same: to break established boundaries and categories, and to display art, historical documentation, everyday objects and curiosities side by side, challenging the idea of what a museum can or should be.
In Oslo, this project is entitled The Lost Museum – Department of Humans. The exhibition is composed of objects from different archives and museum collections from all over Norway, and explores the way in which Northern European culture has defined and redefined what it means to be a human being.
Artworks by Theodor Kittelsen, photographs of paranormal and psychic phenomena, masks, and medical equipment are displayed next to children’s toys, documents from the German occupation, and pictures illustrating rituals from earlier times. Traditionally, each object was once part of a separate history. They have been classified as art, historical or anthropological documents, cultural heritage, psychology, or medical research. However, once these objects are exhibited together, they generate new possibilities.
The Lost Museum – Department of Humans is suspended in the crossroads between fantasy and fact, reality and magic, beauty and hideousness. In a modern world, dominated by the struggle to achieve progress, efficiency and individuality, it seems that human phenomena, beliefs and experiences are often set aside. By calling attention to these overlooked human experiences, The Lost Museum offers a new way of understanding our culture. What happens when something that does not conform to rational modernity is lifted out of the archives?
The Lost Museum searches for disparities in expert agreements on the direction of art and science, life and society. In The Lost Museum – Department of Humans, the public can expect the unexpected – and look forward to an untraditional museum experience, and an alternative history of Norway.
Venue: Munchmuseet on the Move - Kunsthall Oslo, Dronning Eufemias gate 34
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Henrik Ibsen’s last play, When We Dead Awaken, follows an aging artist’s meeting with his former muse and lost love. “We see the irretrievable only when we dead awaken,” she says - “we find that we have never lived.” In this exhibition it is the artwork of the Stenersen collection’s female artists which awakens to life.
Artists and cultural institutions both shape, and are shaped by, society and history. The choices Rolf Stenersen made when he built up his collection tell us, among other things, how the art world of the early twentieth century was dominated by men. The role of women was limited, and they most often appeared as muses, mothers, servants or nude models. So it is not surprising that only 16 of the 963 works in the Stenersen collection were made by women.
The five female artists who are represented in the exhibition have all, in their way, challenged the gender roles of their time, and created outstanding paintings.