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KULMEDIA-Kultur- og mediesektoren

Museums and Textiles in Trondheim

Alternative title: Museer og tekstiler i Trondheim

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

In the project Museums and Textiles in Trondheim (MUTE), we ask ourselves how the way we archive, describe, talk about, and exhibit textile objects determines their fate in art history. Throughout the history of modern art, which coincides in time with the establishment of the public museums in Europe, textile art has been viewed as inferior in relation to painting. Does the fact that textile work for centuries has been associated with women’s work play a role in the devaluation of textiles in the history of art? And in what ways is this manifest in museum practices? We compare textiles and their vocabularies and histories across three different collections: in the art museum, in the design museum, and in the cultural history museum. Our main case is the Hannah Ryggen collection in Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum in Trondheim. Ryggen, who lived most of her life at Ørlandet outside Trondheim, bequeathed her private and unsold tapestries to Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, which today owns the largest collection of her works. Her work falls within (or between) two categories: craft and fine art, which makes it perfect for the study of the precarious situation of textiles. Within the past 10 years, Ryggen has received renewed international attention. MUTE is following up this interest with a special research project on her significance for textile art in Norway.

The MUTE project aims to reframe textiles within varying museum contexts. A PhD project will focus on Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum’s comprehensive collection of Hannah Ryggen tapestries. There will be a systematic work on reframing textiles in museum collection management tools (Primus, the museum database). Peer-reviewed articles will be published; 1) on textile vocabularies in museum collections, and 2) on textile histories and institutional politics. Through these measures the project aims at giving voice to textile artworks, a group that within the museum context specifically, and in the broader cultural histories and narratives, have been silenced. It is crucial to the debate on consolidations of institutions that museums are critically engaging in the debates on textile vocabularies and categorisation to arrive at holistic collection management, and exhibitions and communication across borders.

Funding scheme:

KULMEDIA-Kultur- og mediesektoren

Funding Sources