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A new exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture considers architecture through the queer gaze

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A new exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture considers architecture through the queer gaze

‘Coming Into Community’ opens on Friday 23 September at the National Museum – Architecture at Bankplassen. The exhibition is the National Museum’s contribution to Oslo Architecture Triennale 2022 and is part of the museum’s Queer Culture Year programme.

The exhibition ‘Coming Into Community’ is about inclusion and exclusion. How have architecture and urban planning been influenced by ideas about community? Why do we feel safe in particular spaces? Can architecture help nurture interpersonal relations? How is community important in LGBTQ+ circles?

MYCKET has installed a queer nightclub in Sverre Fehn’s Pavilion
The exhibition at the National Museum – Architecture is in two parts. In the Pavilion, Swedish art and architecture collective MYCKET was invited to create an interactive installation. The result has transformed the space into a queer and playful venue with historical elements.

MYCKET links the concept of inclusion, of ‘finding one’s community’, to a time, a place and a kind of architecture: the queer night club. With a starting point in its members’ own experiences and research into queer spaces and the architecture of queer nightclubs, the group has been creating interactive installations and club concepts for a decade.

From family homes to ‘the gay blocks’
The Bucher Room contains a display of examples from the past 70 years of how ideas about community have influenced architecture and urban planning. Who has been included? And who has been excluded? What does urban planning look like from queer, feminist and other marginalized perspectives?

The main aim of postwar housing policy was to provide secure homes for nuclear families. It was only during the 1960s and 70s that ideas about inclusion and diversity began to influence home building. The projects featured here include the blocks built at Enerhaugen for the Oslo-based developer OBOS, which became known colloquially as ‘the gay blocks’. The blocks were the first OBOS project where single people could buy apartments. The other featured housing projects are Svartlamon in Trondheim, Selegrend near Bergen, and Lambertseter in Oslo.

Stonewall Nation: A Queer Utopia
The exhibition includes several international perspectives. In a separate part of the Bucher Room, we show Sille Storihle’s film ‘The Stonewall Nation’, along with Storihle’s research materials. In the 1960s, the gay rights activist Don Jackson proposed that a group of gay men should relocate to Alpine County, a small community in the Californian desert. The objective was for the group to form a local electoral majority and shape the local community on its own terms.

Two other displays feature the work of Matrix, a feminist architecture collective that in the 1980s offered free architecture services to marginalized groups; and work by the lesbian architect, photographer and filmmaker Phyllis Birkby, who campaigned to raise awareness of women’s needs in architecture and against the perpetuation of patriarchal attitudes by educational institutions.

Programme for the opening weekend at the National Museum – Architecture
On Saturday 24 September, the British writer and educator Jos Boys will talk about her work as part of Matrix. Also on Saturday, the American architect Joel Sanders will present a lecture about queer architecture. Both lectures will be streamed on nasjonalmuseet.no. The complete programme of events for the exhibition is available here.

‘Coming Into Community’ runs until 29 January 2023. The exhibition will be archived in a 3D digital format. For more information, interviews etc., please contact the press officer, Rannveig Falkenberg-Arell, rannveig.falkenberg-arell@nasjonalmuseet.no/ +47 41 47 95 44.

Oslo Architecture Triennale is a festival and research forum that is held every third autumn in Oslo. In 2022, the Trienniale will run from 22 September to 30 October. The National Museum is one of the Triennale’s principal members, along with the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, DOGA, Oslo Arkitektforening (OAF), the National Association of Norwegian Architects (NAL), and Oslo Business Region. This year’s Triennale, ‘Mission Neighbourhood’, investigates how we shape the places we share – and how we can make them better. The complete programme is available here.

There is a packed programme of events for the opening weekend, including the official opening and party at the Oslo Neighbourhood Lab, as Gamle Munch (the former Munch Museum at Tøyen) will be known for the duration of the Triennale. Other events at the Lab include the international opening seminar, the art project ‘The Ledger of the Sun’, and a conversation with Sir Peter Cook and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. In addition, Arkitekturdagen (the Architecture Day) will be held at Folketeateret and there will be a seminar on the building’s interior at Deichman Bjørvika.

Queer Culture Year 2022 was initiated by the National Museum, the National Library of Norway and the Norwegian Archive for Queer History to mark the passing of 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Norway.

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The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design is the largest art museum in the Nordics. The collection contains 400,000 objects ranging from the antiquity to the present day and includes paintings, sculpture, drawings, textiles, furniture and architectural models. The new museum building opened in June 2022. At the National Museum visitors can experience a comprehensive Collection presentation of around 6,500 works, as well as a varied programme of temporary exhibitions and events. 

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Simen Joachim Helsvig

Simen Joachim Helsvig

Press contact Communications advisor +47 917 64 327