Surveying the past. Drawings from the collection of the Directorate of Cultural Heritage

2 November 2012–3 February 2013

The National Museum – Architecture

This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of what is now the Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Norway's first national antiquarian, Herman Major Schirmer (1845–1913), was appointed in 1912. The National Museum's anniversary gift to the Directorate takes the form of this exhibition. By focusing on survey drawings, the exhibition provides a glimpse of the traditions that underlay the newly-founded service's work. The exhibition consists of 23 drawings and a few lithographs dating from 1810 to 1903. Most have been loaned from the archives of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren).

At the beginning of the 19th century no complete list existed of cultural sites and monuments in Norway.  A system for registering and surveying architectural cultural monuments was only implemented with the establishment in 1844 of the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The Society's first annual report contained a straightforward appeal for information about, among other things, "notable Church Buildings of Stone and Wood ".

The first survey drawings were intended not only for inclusion in an academic register of Norway's cultural monuments, but also for publication as part of efforts to promote the preservation of Norway's ancient buildings. Many of these drawings are astoundingly beautiful in their detail and convey forceful messages on behalf of the buildings they depict.

Curator: Bente Solbakken