Hedmarksmuseet – Above & Below

When visiting Sverre Fehn’s Hedmarksmuseet as part of a studio trip, and after recalling on the excursion, I was able to understand the true spatial experience offered by this place.

As an example of rehabilitation, this museum truly harmonizes the old barn with its added structure and roofs. The facades are another example, the glass panes only placed side by side with the old stone walls.

entrée2Fig.1

It all starts with an outside ramp, located right next to the entrance, connecting it to the Lecture Theatre, wrapping and overlooking the existing excavation sites. As a metaphorical image, Fehn’s intervention makes us walk above the visible past, thus leading to a closer future.

Another outdoor ramp, discretely annexed to the right side of the building, supposedly leads to the large exhibition wing.

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When reaching its end, you find yourself entering a room, an amphitheater dedicated to lectures and events on your left. On your right stands the dark excavation wing, containing the three ‘boxes’ Fehn dropped off alongside an indoor elevated path, again overlooking the digging spaces.

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Fig.2 & Fig.3

From this landing space, the first box you encounter leaves you stuck at its entrance, unable to walk around. Indeed, a glass threshold stands before you. From this point, you try to see as much as you can.

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Carrying on to the second box, Fehn finally allows you in, and you are able to move within the display tables that are surrounding you. This is a way of getting closer and closer to the objets and artefacts exhibited in their glass cases.

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The third and final box allows you to reach the ultimate possibilities of your moving self. There, you get around a main display stand arranged into grids, partially filled with tiny mundane objects, shown as remarkable pieces of art.

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Fig.4

Leaving these skylighted boxes and their elongated ramp, you enter the final space of the building where you can finally feel the light flooding in. Landing on a mezzanine filled with transportation-related objects such as carts, sledges or saddles, the relation between ‘above’ and ‘below’ still perpetuates itself. Indeed, you can catch glimpses of the few objects displayed downstairs when bending over the thick concrete railings.

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To reach the ground floor again, you either go back to find a spiral staircase, go down using a tiny amphitheater or, yet, another ramp allows you to do so.

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These aspects are, among the preciosity of Fehn’s display designs, the true striking particularity of Hedmarksmuseet. Constantly offering the visitors many exploratory routes, balancing between old and new, as well as creating subtle relations in between each space, this building is a gem, visually, but above all, spatially.

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Fig.5 & Fig.6

The many elevated paths, mezzanines and ramps is a result of Fehn’s wish to preserve the original site without deteriorating it. The contact is as reduced as possible between the old and the new, allowing them to cohabit skillfully. I felt like gradually discovering every space, wandering around, using the many options available.


Photo Credits

All pictures taken by me, except for figures :

  1. Hélène Binet
  2. Jan Haug
  3. Hélène Binet
  4. Hedmarksmuseets Fotoavdeling
  5. Unknown
  6. Hélène Binet