Permanent og kontemporært. Tidlige variasjoner av en norsk arkitektursamling

  • Mari Lending


In the mid-1920s, a collection of architectural material was founded on the initiative of the architect Georg Eliassen, in response to an increasing frustration among Norwegian architects over not being able to meet invitations to participate in international architectural exhibitions. Consisting of drawings, photographs and models, this collection was guided by a quite fascinating principle. By being updated every year, while eliminating older projects on a regular basis, the so-called Permanent Collection strove towards achieving absolute contemporaneity. Although founded on an anti-additive, anti-museum impulse, the collection kept increasing. By the mid-1930s, it included hundreds of models and innumerable drawings and photos, and in 1934 it was proposed that the collection could serve as the basis for a Norwegian museum of architecture.

This ambition failed to come to fruition, however, and most of the material that had been on frequent display during the late 1920s and early 1930s both in Norway and abroad (e.g. in Kiel, Budapest, Helsinki and Berlin) was later dispersed, lost or destroyed. The objects still in existence have been subjected to a classification that is both confusing and unsatisfactory, as their origins and whereabouts have not been described. Via extensive archival research, this article documents the his- tory of a collection fallen into oblivion, framing it within a wider European context of collecting and exhibiting architecture.