Controversial museum for equally controversial laureate opens in Hamaroy
500 visitors yesterday attended the opening of a museum in Hamaroy, Norway, dedicated to a laureate writer whose name later seeped into notoriety due to his Nazi sympathies. The Knut Hamsun Museum, designed by Steven Holl Architects and displaying works by and dedicated to Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, was opened on the 150th anniversary of his birth near the village where he was born.
Holl's design is influenced by Hamsun's explorations of the intricacies of the human mind, and is the realization of a Hamsun character in architectonic terms. Inspired by passages of Hamsun's texts, there is an "empty violin case" deck, while a viewing balcony is like the "girl with sleeves rolled up polishing yellow panes."
Similar to Hamsun's life, the museum has sparked major controversy since its design in 1994. Over 300 local articles have been published on the design which has been amended several times before returning to its original design in 2004 with the addition of a community auditorium. The 2,700 sq ft building also contains exhibition areas, a library and reading room and a cafe.
"The concept for the museum, 'Building as a Body: Battleground of Invisible Forces,' is realized from both inside and out," say Steven Holl Architects. "The wood exterior is punctuated by hidden impulses piercing through the surface. The spine of the building body, constructed from perforated brass, is the central elevator. The board form concrete structure with stained white interiors is illuminated by diagonal rays of sunlight calculated to ricochet through the section on certain days of the year."