Nissen Richards Studio recently completed a stunning exhibition for two different clients in two different venues: MUNCH in Oslo and KODE in Bergen. Playing Pieces is a collaborative exhibition, sponsored by and featuring the extensive art collection of philanthropic organization Sparebankstiftelsen DNB - who also played a curatorial role in the project, together with the teams from MUNCH and KODE.
Nissen Richards Studio was asked to create a single concept exhibition that would be recognizably the same for both venues, whilst also uniquely suited to the different spaces and the graphic identity of each institution. Playing Pieces has now opened at Oslo's MUNCH and will transfer after its late August completion to KODE in Bergen.
The brief asked for 'an exhibition experience that creates engagement, reflection & inclusion for a wide audience' and which looked 'to show a diverse world-class art collection and ask critical questions about the stories we tell each other through art and the institutions that characterize cultural life in Norway.'
The proposed concept for the 167-artwork show had to work well within the new-build confines of the new MUNCH museum building, designed by architects Estudio Herreros and which opened in October 2021 as the world's number one destination for experiencing Edvard Munch's art, as well as a diverse range of modern and contemporary art. Secondly, the concept had to work equally well within its subsequent host venue of KODE in Bergen. KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes is one of the largest museums for art, craft, design, and music in the Nordic countries, occupying four buildings in Bergen city center.
The specific location for the first show is the entire third floor of MUNCH, an L-shaped floor space, divided into a large hall and a small hall. The KODE exhibition location, also on the third floor of the museum, is comprised of three rooms and is formed of a central atrium space with two adjoining wings, as well as a ground floor introductory space.
"The key to this unique challenge was to design a spatially-simple approach that could work in both spaces, with a clear exhibition identity created by bold use of a series of colours and texture, which are individual to the particular artist or group of artists that forms the focus of each main segment of the exhibition," commented Pippa Nissen of Nissen Richards Studio. "We underwent a long and careful process of collaboration with both clients in order to ensure equal ownership over the direction and the appropriateness of the results for both. Another key difference was the availability of MUNCH's brand-new adaptable wall system for display, whilst at KODE we purpose-built new display walls. Finally, the graphics treatment needed to differ for each exhibition to reflect the graphic identity of the host museum."
The concept behind the shows was the presentation and thematicization of Sparebankstiftelsen's art collection, shedding light on the organization's activities as an art collector and on its role in Norwegian art life, as well as the cultural relevance of each section's artworks. The priority areas of that collection - embracing paintings, graphic works, photography and sculpture - formed the eight thematic sections of the exhibition, which are: Nikolai Astrup, German Expressionism, Putting Munch in Context, Pioneering Women, Kurt Schwitters and Friends, Warhol After Munch, American Street Photography, and New Playing Pieces.