The architect and set designer Arne Kvorning and his team in Copenhagen are staging the maritime industry at museums – most recently at the Hurtigruten Museum in Norway.
The revitalisation of the Hurtigruten Museum in Norway is one of the latest projects on the reference list of Kvorning Design – a Copenhagen-based architect and design company that has delivered exhibition designs to a significant number of museums in Denmark and abroad.
Since the outset in 1992, the projects have presented a clear blue line. The number of completed or ongoing assignments at museums conveying history from the maritime industry or the marine or coastal culture has now passed 30.
The reconstructed Hurtigruten Museum in Stokmarknes, which opened to the public last year, is just 1 of 8 completed or ongoing maritime or marine projects in Norway alone.
The Danish designers have recently created the “Salmon Eye”, a privately owned experience centre for one of Norway’s major players in the salmon industry, Eide Fjordbruk. In parallel, Kvorning Design has also submitted a bid for a forthcoming revitalisation of the exhibitions at Bergen Maritime Museum.
It started with Maersk
Furthermore, there are 16 “blue” museum and exhibition projects in Denmark, including The Blue Planet (Den Blå Planet) and Maritimt Kulturcenter Mariagerfjord, and also Sjöhistoriska Museet (The National Maritime Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden. Outside the Nordic region, they are currently working together with a maritime museum in Shenzhen, China.
“Shipping was actually the framework around our very first business assignment. That is, in which we worked for private companies and not public institutions, as most museums are. The project was to create the exhibition at A. P. Møller – Maersk’s first visitor centre, which was established in Nordre Toldbod in Copenhagen,” explains architect Arne Kvorning, founder of Kvorning Design, where he is CEO and chief exhibition designer.
“However, the assignment for Maersk did not immediately lead to new maritime projects. However, on the other hand, we won similar assignments to create exhibitions in private company museums for some of the largest Danish companies such as Lego, Danfoss and Grundfos,” he says.
According to Arne Kvorning, it was a museum project in Nordland, Norway, on the Norwegian poet-priest Petter Dass that gave the company a solid foothold in Norway with a network that works with the sea as a theme in various ways.
“We have now made exhibitions at more than 40 museums in Norway, some of which have to do with the maritime world. We have created a solid position in Norway, and I believe it is down to the fact that there is a great deal of mobility among museum directors in Norway, which helps you to be considered later in other museums as well,” he explains.
In addition to the already mentioned Norwegian museums, Kvorning Design has also made exhibitions at maritime-related museums in Norway, such as the Whaling Museum in Sandefjord, the Norwegian Oil Museum in Stavanger, the Jektefartsmuseet in Bodø, the Coastal Museum in Sør-Trøndelag, the Norwegian Wildlife Center in Lærdal and Vega World Heritage Center on the coastal and archipelago culture.
In the latest major project in Norway at the Hurtigruten Museum, it was about revitalising an existing museum exhibition in a completely new framework.
The heart of the exhibition is the same as before, the coastal passenger ship FINNMARKEN, which was built in 1956 and has been preserved ashore. However, in the new framework, the passenger ship has been put under the roof of a showcase-like building, made by the Norwegian architectural firm LINK Arkitektur.
The completely new and spectacular physical setting also required a rethinking and re-dissemination of the exhibition, and Kvorning Design won the tender for the assignment.
A huge “glass stand”
“Previously, we had worked for Museum Nord, which is responsible for the Hurtigruten Museum. It is important to understand that the museum does not convey the story of the shipping company Hurtigruten, which today sails on the coastal route. The museum focuses on the “Hurtigruten” phenomenon, which in Norway is connected to the history and culture associated with the vital coastal passenger sailing between Bergen and Kirkenes through the ages.”
“Coastal passenger sailing has a central place in Norwegian culture, and to many people, there is an adventurous glow about it,” Arne Kvorning explains.
“There are 3 main elements in the exhibition; onboard FINNMARKEN, in the new large indoor space around the ship and on a couple of exhibition floors in the new building behind the huge “glass stand,” he explains.
“The authentic focal point is onboard the ship. We have put a lot of effort into bringing the ship to life. For example, you can hear people inside the cabins as you walk around the cabin aisles. Outside the ship, we have a vast space to work with – a huge display stand, in which we are also able to use the height of the space with “flying” exhibition elements.
“The new building also includes some traditional floor space, leaving room for more classic exhibitions. So, the new Hurtigruten Museum works in many ways,” he explains.
Today, Kvorning Design is headquartered in Njalsgade in Copenhagen, currently employing 18-20 people. As the majority of the assignments are outside the Danish borders, the company also has three foreign bases abroad, currently in Norway, the UK and China.
Architect and set designer
“Our team mostly consists of architects and designers, but we also have communication-trained people, historians, interaction designers and animators, which means that we can work broadly, from dissemination and interaction design to the design of physical elements, such as showcase stands, to the production of “living” animated exhibition elements. For example, they can be projected onto the walls of the room or onto objects,” Arne Kvorning explains.
The latest Salmon Eye project also includes a more traditional architectural role, as Kvorning Design also designed the spectacular, floating pavilion out in the Hardangerfjord, which is designed as a fisheye.