Galleri ROM, Oslo, 08. september – 16.oktober 2016
Curators: Ola Sendstad and Eva Bakkeslett
Producer: Henrik Minassian, Gallery ROM
After 123 years the stave church pavilion that represented Norway during the World Exhibition in Chicago in 1893 is returning home. A giant combined effort by a group of enterprising pensioners in Orkdal has made a dream come true. During the Oslo Architecture Triennial 2016 Gallery ROM will show the exhibition Little Norway. The artists’ collective Bureau Detours (DK) and the architectural firm Gamle3Hus (N) will, in collaboration with the pensioners from Orkdal, make a vigorous and engaging exhibition based around the stave church pavilion. Here enthusiasm and cooperation fuses with important questions about expressing, creating and rebuilding a sense of belonging.
At the World Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, Norway was represented with a modular stave church imitation designed by the architect Waldemar Hansteen. The pavilion was built in Strandheim Brug in Orkdal, Norway, led by the pioneering and industrious architect Christian Thams. After the Expo, the pavilion served as a weekend cottage for several prominent owners, before the Norwegian American enthusiast Isaac Dahle finally bought it in 1935. He built up the museum park Little Norway around the stave church pavilion, to convey Norwegian culture to Americans. For many years this was a popular attraction for Norwegian Americans in search of their heritage. After Little Norway was closed down a rescue mission was initiated by a gang of retirees, who wanted to disassemble the pavilion and re-erect it in Orkdal.
This came about because in 1970 Olav Sigurd Kvaale in Orkdal received a photograph of the Norway Pavilion as a gift from his uncle and learned that his grandfather had carved the entrance portal to the pavilion. 44 years later Olav went to visit the stave church pavilion in Little Norway, Wisconsin, which had already been closed down. He conceived the idea to bring it home to Orkdal, mobilised friends and acquaintances in his efforts and also got the municipality involved in the project. In 2015 a gang of old-age pensioners travelled from Orkdal to Wisconsin, dismantled the entire pavilion, packed it into containers and shipped it home. Together they are now restoring the building and preparing it for its imminent revival.
The project is the germ of an idea that came true thanks to the incredible voluntary efforts by a gang of eager pensioners. In a wider perspective, the project has many interesting aspects involving belonging, transformation, repair, conservation, mobility, adaptability, roots and anchoring. The significance of voluntary endeavors as a phenomenon is also an important pillar in the project.
Galleri ROM wanted to illuminate the interesting and complex story and explore the Norwegian stave church pavilion in a contemporary context. ROM has engaged artists’ collective Bureau Detours (DK) and architectural company Gamle3Hus (N) who, in close collaboration with the pensioners from Orkdal, have created the project Little Norway showing at Gallery ROM during the Oslo Architecture Triennial 2016. Here fragments from the fascinating history of the pavilion are being staged.
The exhibition offers guided tours, lectures, workshops and a film program. You can learn more about repair and craftsmanship and even take part in restoring the pavilion, talk with the pensioners, artists and architects and participate in a dialogue on voluntary work, repair and belonging. We warmly welcome you to the opening of the exhibition on Thursday the 8th of September at 6pm at Gallery ROM, Maridalsveien 3, Oslo.
The exhibition Little Norway is the first part of the REPAIR program at Gallery ROM, which explores repair and belonging.