About the conference

Texts and Things: The Nazi Politics of Space Exhibited

The exhibition Grossraum − Organisation Todt and forced labour in Norway 1940−45 opens at The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology on February 16th 2017. The exhibition results from amalgamation of extensive scholarly research and experimental exhibition making. In partnership with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Museum wishes to use this occasion to invite scholars from different fields and backgrounds to discuss novel ways of integrating research, exhibition making, and outreach activities.

Even if Organisation Todt (OT) was an important agent in the German war economy, the organization constitutes a blind spot in the research about National Socialism. Neither OT’s institutional role in the Nazi economic system, nor its responsibility for mass employment of prisoners of war and forced labors have been studied thoroughly. Headed by the engineer Fritz Todt and the architect Albert Speer, OT in Norway was responsible for numerous civil and military construction projects during the war. Coastal fortifications, airfields, roads, power plants, and a 1200-kilometer railway to the Arctic Ocean, were to integrate Norway into the new European order, the Nazi Grossraum. Serving as a tool for the Nazi politics of space, OT’s reinforced concrete structures became the foundations for exercising power and domination on a transnational scale. Totally dependent on its violently recruited workforce, OT enrolled Norway into an economic system based on the enslavement of millions of people.


The 440 shelf meters of historical material made available through the newly opened OT-archives in Oslo constitute an important source of knowledge about forced labour not only in a Norwegian, but also in a European context. Since 2011, the archives have been the basis of an NTNU-led research project titled The political economy of forced labour: Organisation Todt in Norway. Communicating new knowledge through the exhibition has been an integrated part of the research project right from the start. At the same time, it has been clear that the exhibition, drawing upon sources other than written documents, investigates the phenomenon from other angles and perspectives. Through the newly established LAB, an experimental zone at the museum, scenographers and artists, diverse museum professionals, and external actors have been invited in to take part in exploring the research material and spatial aspect of the topic.

This unique combination of archival research and exhibition making addresses the tantalizing question of how museums can be a fertile place for knowledge generation. Museums work with material objects to facilitate experience, exploration and understanding through exhibitions. Unlike texts, exhibitions can generate and display knowledge that is open to diverse readings and interpretations. Still, this is not a straightforward process or practice.

The question concerning the epistemic value of working with objects and collections is central to a collaborative research project run by the museum LAB called The thing's method. Inspired by the “material turn”, the project investigates object-oriented museum practices and the reconceptualization of objects as relational things. As Bruno Latour reminds us through the exhibition "Making Things Public" (2005); a thing indicates both an object and an assembly. Objects conceptualized as things are relational and contested, and here, we believe, lies their energizing potential for methodological development.

Multidisciplinary collaboration, following the network of things, inquiring the relations a thing engages in, pushes the museum to relinquish some of its power to define the direction of what to be researched, and what to be displayed. Through this practice, new narratives take shape. For example, the granite stone carved in Norway to decorate the façade of Hitler’s triumphal arch in Berlin is put on display to materialize the Nazi politics of space. Carrying other representations as well, the stone opens up stories of the collaborative Norwegian stone industry, or the collapsing logistics set up to transport monumental stones to Germany. As the museum visitor will learn, the stone also connects to current everyday life, as it was located in a private garden where it served as a decorative bench.

We believe that the amalgamation of exhibition making and academic research allows for cross-fertilization through new theoretical investigations, new research questions and diverse interpretations. This carries the potential for original and innovative knowledge creation at the intersection of texts and things.





Andre samling for delprosjektene

Tirsdag 27. september var deltakere fra alle delprosjektene samlet for andre gang i år. Temaet for seminaret denne gangen var Kongoblikk – Blikk på Kongo, og spørsmålet om hvordan det å ta utgangspunkt i tingene kan bidra til at museet åpner seg for nye mennesker og nye perspektiver.

Åpning av Folkeobservatoret

26. august åpnet dobbeltutstillingen Folkeobservatoriet med konsert, felles buss fra Teknisk Museum til Holmenkollen og en hel masse mennesker. Her er noen bilder fra kvelden. Fotograf: Håkon Bergseth. 

Åpning av Kongoblikk-Blikk på Kongo

25. september åpnet utstillingen Kongoblikk - Blikk på Kongo i Rød sone på Kulturhistorisk museum.  Fotograf: Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty/Kulturhistorisk museum, Universitetet i Oslo (KHM).

Besøk i LAB fra Jærmuseet

Tankene vi jobber med i Tingenes metode skal deles. Derfor har vi ofte gjester i LAB på Teknisk museum.

Bilder fra Texts and Things

Konferansen Texts and Things gikk av stabelen på Norsk Teknisk Museum den 16. og 17. februar 2017. 


30. januar inviterer vi til lansering av "Tingenes metode. Museene som tingsteder" på Norsk Teknisk Museum.

Erfaringer fra stjernekikkertverkstedet

Kvelden fredag 9. september møtte nærmere 100 barn og voksne opp på det gamle folkeobservatoriet i Holmenkollen for å lage sin egen stjernekikker se ut på nattehimmelen, og oppleve utstillingen FOLKEOBSERVATORIET.

Expert meetings

In thinking about an exhibition experiment on traps, we organised what we like to think of as 'expert meetings', with three scholars who have research interests in traps. Through conversations, the themes of the exhibition have emerged, and are also influencing design elements. We met Gunnar H. Gundersen (HiOA), Jostein Bergstol (KHM), and Espen Wæhle (Maritimt museum).

Katalog: Museene som tingsteder

Katalogen "Tingenes metode - Museene som tingsteder" kan lastes ned her. 


Lag din egen stjernekikkert fra et par briller, og utforsk stjernehimmelen!

I forbindelse med utstillingen «Folkeobservatoriet» inviterer vi deg til et verksted hvor du kan bygge din egen stjernekikkert. Du får også gode tips til hva du kan se med den!


This exhibition project proposes a series of workshops leading to an exhibition on the theme of traps. Following on the idea of the exhibition as research that is promoted in the Red Zone at the Kulturhistorisk museum, the topic of traps is chosen given its potential to reflect on issues related to particular kinds of predatory human-animal, and human-human, relations.

In anthropology, and the social sciences more generally, there has been a recent call to pay attention to non-human agencies, and human-animal relations; traps are artefacts that can be used to think about these themes. Traps also happen to be found in abundance in ethnographic museums collections, early collectors presumably mainly motivated by traps as technology. Traps thus link the museum with the hunting ground, collecting and hunting practices, and can be used as conceptual tool to think about museums and exhibitions as kinds of traps.

The workshops leading to the exhibition will revolve around artefacts in the collections from the Pacific, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. We will be asking ourselves: what can traps tell us about the way we humans relate to other beings, including other humans? What do they tell us about the human mind, or perhaps human nature?

The project includes a collaboration with Professor Gunnar H. Gundersen at the Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus.

Tredje samling for delprosjektene

Torsdag 8. desember samlet vi igjen alle delprosjektene for å fortsette samtalen om hva Tingenes metode er og kan være.

Utstilling: Kongoblikk - blikk på Kongo

Kongoblikk — blikk på Kongo er en utstilling som har vokst frem gjennom et samarbeid mellom Kulturhistorisk museum og det kongolesiske miljøet i Norge. Utstillingen åpner 23. september.

Utstilling: Skjeletter i skapet

Fra 27. september kan du se utstillingen "Skjeletter i skapet" på Medisinsk Museum ved Norsk Teknisk Museum.

Vi har holdt "ting"

Et sentralt begrep i Tingenes metode er ”ting”. Gjenstander er selvfølgelig viktige i prosjektet, men en annen betydning av ting er nesten like viktig, nemlig ting i betydningen forsamling hvor ”saker av allmenn interesse diskuteres”.