For the Munch Museum in Oslo, Snøhetta has created the exhibition design for the exhibition “Towards the Forest – Knausgård on Munch”. From May 5 to October 8, 2017, visitors can explore the work of Edvard Munch through the eyes of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård. The exhibition, co-curated by Knausgård and art historian Kari Brandtzæg, features numerous paintings, graphic prints, and sculptures never before exhibited.
The exhibition takes the visitors on a journey through four main spaces, each space with a distinct color palette reflecting the theme and the works exhibited. From a blue space representing the summer sky, through a green space with associations to the forest, visitors enter the exhibition’s middle space: the dark room. Covered with black stained plywood walls and a black carpet, the atmosphere changes as one enters this dark space. A change in the acoustics and the smell of wood create a different sensory experience; it is almost like walking into a thick, dark forest.
On the walls in the dark space, visitors can explore a selection of Munch’s many woodcuts and sketches of murals and larger installations. The darkness makes the prints stand out, while also protecting the delicate paper against strong lighting. The plywood walls give an added dimension to the exhibited woodcuts, playing with materiality and tactility.
In the middle of dark room is a custom-built display features a set of sculptures. The display installation is inspired by the North-Irish Giant Causeway, with its changing levels and angular edges. This gives the installation an organic, yet structured expression.
As a stark contrast to the dark room with its abundance of wood, visitors move further into a yellow space. Here, a light and fresh color palette shifts the focus from nature to humans, exhibiting large full-scale portraits. Many of these works have never been exhibited, and visitors are given a unique chance to see some of Munch’s more undiscovered work.
Focus has been put on creating an intuitive flow throughout the space, making it easy to navigate while also letting visitors repeatedly experience something new as they maneuver through the exhibition. This is supported by a large map of the space available at the entry of the exhibition.
Wall texts are kept to a minimum and are presented in a traditional way. Additional information, such as artwork titles, are presented through a leaflet designed specifically for the exhibition. The addition of the leaflet keeps the exhibition walls clean, giving space for the art.
The typography used in the exhibition is based on an early sans-serif letterform; a modern typeface based on the first sans-serif typefaces developed during Munch’s years in Berlin. The typography is used also at the exhibition entrance, where large letters are cut out from the same black stained plywood used on the walls of the dark space.