VIKING MYTHOLOGIES II

10. sep - 30. des 2015
Peter Nicolai Arbo Valkyrien, 1869 Foto: Jacques Lathion ©Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design

Peter Nicolai Arbo
Valkyrien, 1869
Foto: Jacques Lathion
©Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og
design

Knud Bergslien Birkebeinerne, 1869 Foto: O. Væring

Knud Bergslien
Birkebeinerne, 1869
Foto: O. Væring

Peter Nicolai Arbo Åsgårdsreien, 1872 Foto: Jacques Lathion ©Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design

Peter Nicolai Arbo
Åsgårdsreien, 1872
Foto: Jacques Lathion
©Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og
design

In 2014 Haugar Art Museum organized the exhibition Viking Mythologies I, where five contemporary artists presented their critical view on how Viking motifs and Norse mythology are incorporated by popular culture and amongst elements of the extreme right. Haugar continues this theme with a comprehensive exhibition showing how the history and sagas of Vikings, and Norse mythology, have unfolded themselves within Norwegian art – and cultural history from the early 1800s until modern-day.

The Viking Age is uniquely tied to the region of Vestfold – both culturally and archeologically. The Oseberg, Gokstad and Klaastad ships were found here, and the region also boasts the largest concentration of burial mounds in Norway. The region’s increasing efforts to highlight Vestfold’s Viking heritage is visible through the educational activities of both Midgard Historical Centre and the New Oseberg Ship Foundation. The main idea in Haugar’s exhibition is to continue the building of regional identity by presenting the first ever art exhibition in Norway that considers this subject in a broad artistic and cultural context.

This exhibition gives Haugar the opportunity to show central icons in Norwegian art history, such as Kund Baade’s Heimdal kaller gudene til kamp, 1828 (Heimdal Calls the Gods to Battle) and Knud Bergslien’s Birkebeinerne på ski over Filefjell, 1869 (Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child). The exhibition also includes a number of tapestries with historical and mythological references by Norway’s first designer Gerhard Munthe, in addition to watercolors and drawings by Adolph Tidemand. The most extensive presentation is granted Peter Nicolai Arbo and his dramatic and romanticizing interpretations of Norse sagas and deities.

The art historical presentation, which also includes silver objects and furniture, is expanded by a section of cultural history focusing on how Viking motifs and Norse mythology has been used in political, nationalist and popular cultural contexts from the early 1900s up to our time. One of the themes highlighted is how Nazism and NS (Norwegian fascist party) adopted notions of Viking and Norse symbols in their racist glorification of Viking heritage. Another theme underlines how the architecture of The Viking Ship Museum took shape as a sacred frame for housing of the excavated Oseberg Ship – an archaeological find that quickly became the symbol of Norway’s proud Viking heritage.

Stol, laget til Eventyrværelset på Holmenkollen turisthotell, 1896 Foto: Norsk Folkemuseum

Stol laget til Eventyrværelset på Holmenkollen turisthotell, 1896
Foto: Norsk Folkemuseum

Gerhard Munthe, Odin Foto: Mekonnen Wolday

Gerhard Munthe
Odin
Foto: Mekonnen Wolday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Viking ship as a national icon was soon appropriated by the tourism industry’s visual branding of Norway. The copy of the Gokstad Ship, which was sailed to Chicago and the World Fair Exhibition in 1893 to prove Leif Eriksson’s discovery of America, can also be seen as an extension of the nation-building idea. This journey also spurred the idea of presentation of the Viking age through reconstructions of historical objects, clothing and customs which for instance comprises the activities of the New Oseberg Ship Foundation and Midgard Historical Centre, where archeological knowledge and historical craftsmanship are imparted through projects open to the public.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition has been edited by curator Tone Lyngstad Nyaas and includes essays by the following noted academics and experts: Hans Fredrik Dahl, Einar Chr. Erlingsen, Morten Kielland, Jan Kokkin, Knut Ljøgodt, Eivind Luthen, Eilif Salemonsen, Lise Emilie Talleraas and Eivind Torkjelsson.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous loans from institutions like The National Museum of Art Architectre and Design, the Drammen Museum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the National Library of Norway, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, Norway’s Resistance Museum, Munchner Stadtmuseum, Bayerische State Library, the New Oseberg Ship Foundation, Midgard Historical Centre, the Whaling Museum in Sandefjord and Larvik Museum as well as private collections.