Ivar Aasen-tunet (Ørsta) – Sverre Fehn

For my second blog post about my research fellowship trip, I have decided to write about the museum I visited the day after the Glacier Museum. In terms of response to context, the two museums couldn’t be more different. The Glacier Museum is a rock left behind in the middle of a field, Ivar Aasen-tunet a line embedded into the hills overlooking a valley below. Enjoy!

Ivar Aasen-tunet documents the man who sacrificed happiness in his life to document the dialects of Norway and create a new language from them; to signify a new Norway, one free from Danish rule. The linear form of the building could perhaps be viewed as a timeline of Aasen’s life. To the east of the entrance lies his childhood home and farm. To the left as you enter is the auditorium, suggesting his time studying/schooling. The exhibition documents his journey across Norway to document the dialects, with the door at the end leading onto a small patio and the view of the fjords of Sunnmøre, showcasing the land and his arduous journeys through it on his way towards creating Nynorsk.

All through the building, especially the exhibition, one can see to the valley in which Aasen called home. An airport currently resides in the valley, and it is easy to imagine with planes taking off that they are in fact bits of Nynorsk spreading out to parts unknown, reminiscient of Aasen’s journeys through the fjords, Nord-Norge, Trondelag and so on.

Here, like all of the others, a material palette of wood, concrete, steel and glass is used. However, the concrete is much more emphasized here. In Hamar it was the ramp, in Alvdal reliefs of wood subdue the concrete. Here concrete dominates, perhaps as a tribute to the strength of a man who sacrificed home, marriage, children, family, etc… for his country during the National Romanticism (the era in which Grosch, Ibsen, Munch, etc… worked).

Exhibition wise, many of the same moves used in Alvdal and Hamar are used here. It is not an exhibition for tourists like the Bremusuem, in fact aside from a couple handouts given to me by staff the exhibition is in Nynorsk with Bokmal subtitles. In 2010, there were 2 Americans and 2 Italians as the only non-Norwegian visitors. In 2011, I was the only one so far.

The glass prism makes its return here. As it holds Aukrust’s personal belongings in Alvdal, it hold Aasen’s in Ørsta. Wood, steel, and glass are used throughout the exhibition, with the weaving around concrete structure signifying Aasen’s journey on foot through the fjords, while providing a view of the valley below.

Towards the hill, more exhibition focuses solely on the language itself (towards the view, it is about Aasen). The monitors allow daylight to enter into the exhibition, in a way reminding me of the Kimbell, but without light control. Here the most peculiar exhibit arises where a desk is mounted vertically as if the sun washed concrete half-barrel vault is a chalkboard on which the pupil learns Nynorsk.

Stayed tuned as next week will feature the Hedmarksmuseet in Hamar, which is an absolutely amazing building, and Fehn’s greatest work in my (and many others) opinion. If I get the chance, I will do a side post about my time in Bergen as well.

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Josh Mings

Architect and painter. Columbus, IN born, New Orleans educated, Chicago living and trying to leave the world better than I found it.