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Design in Scandinavia

DATES April 20, 1954 through May 16, 1954
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
  • April 1954: Brilliant Examples of Contemporary Home Furnishings To Be Shown from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden
    Charles Nagel, Director of The Brooklyn Museum, announces that the museum will open to the public on Tuesday, April 20, the exhibition, "Design in Scandinavia," containing more than 700 examples of contemporary home furnishings designed and executed in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

    This exhibition, which will tour the United States and Canada for the next three and one-half years, came to America in response to an invitation and at considerable cost to the people of the four countries represented. During the many months of careful preparation, designers, manufacturers, critics and design society officials in Scandinavia overcame differences of opinion among themselves and strained their facilities in order to present the best possible picture of contemporary design in their countries. Furniture, ceramics, textiles, silver and stainless steel, all of new design, are included in the exhibit which will remain at the museum through May 16.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1954, 011 View Original
  • April 20, 1954: Members of the Scandinavian diplomatic corps to this country were among the distinguished guests attending the brilliant festivities and preview dinner for the opening of the exhibition, “Design in Scandinavia,” at The Brooklyn Museum, last evening (Monday, April 19.)

    The exhibition opened to the public today and will remain on view through May 16. Mr. Charles Nagel, Director of the museum, presided at the ceremonies which took place in the museum’s Sculpture Court. Co-sponsored by the American Scandinavian Foundation, the dinner was preceded by a reception for diplomats and leaders in American-Scandinavian activities in this country.

    Special guests included Honrik de Kauffmann, Ambassador from Denmark; Erik Boheman, Ambassador from Sweden; Wilholm Munthe de Morgenstierne, Ambassador from Norway; Johan Albert Nykoff, Minister from Finland. James J. O’Brien represented Mayor Robert F. Wagner of New York City. Robert E. Blum, president of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences of which the museum is a part, extended a welcome to guests.

    Lithogow Osborne, president of the American Scandinavian Foundation, and Ake Huldt, managing director of the Swedish Society of Arts, Crafts and Industrial Design, also addressed the audience. Mr. Nagel referred to the exhibition, which includes 700 objects for the [h]ome, as “an impressive demonstration to this country of the cooperative endeavors among the four countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.” He said he felt privileged that The Brooklyn Museum was able to bring this design exhibition “to the door of a potential audience of 8,000,000 people.”

    “Design in Scandinavia” will tour museums in the United States and Canada for three years.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1954, 012-013 View Original 1 . View Original 2
  • April 21, 1954: More than 700 objects of Scandinavian design, all for the home, are on view today in The Brooklyn Museum. A feeling of quiet, good elegance pervades the entire exhibition area on the first floor where bright lights dance about on silver, glass, porcelain and handsome woods in forms and patterns of great variety.

    The exhibition, “Design in Scandinavia”, will remain at the museum through May 16 after which it will tour museums in the United States and Canada for the next three years.

    “Design in Scandinavia” contains a generous, comprehensive sampling of what is now being produced in the four countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Denmark is conspicuous for its mature and highly cultured silversmith’s art, her porcelain and her elegant furniture. Sweden is distinguished by its glass, with its many facets, and its strict grace. Norway delights with her colorful domestic crafts and woven goods while Finland enters the scene with multicolored, emotional patterns of its rugs. Although fashioned thousands of miles away but to fulfill very similar decorative functions, these objects fit beautifully into the contemporary American home.

    Exhibition's Philosophy

    As stated in the handbook accompanying the exhibition, the Scandinavian design movement has this aim:

    "To create surroundings which satisfy the needs of modern man and simply and naturally fulfill practical and esthetic requirements--and not least to teach people to realize the values of such surroundings--this has been our ideal, and, however imperfect the result, this ideal has inspired us.”

    The architectural framework of the Exhibition designed by [a] Dane and constructed in Sweden, provides a symbolically neutral background for displaying the work of the four countries.

    No dominant nationality emerges; the personality of each country is distinct. This reality is revealed, for example, in the chairs on display. The Danish chairs, with their intricate workmanship and highly sculptured surfaces come from a country where hand operations in small shops are very much the rule. In contrast, the Swedish chairs are more frequently designed for factory production. Suave in line, comfortable, well made, equally successful, they are conceived from a different point of view and are produced in the light of a different set of economic circumstances. Finnish fabrics, for the most part, are characterized by muted color in arrangements of very close values. Upholstery materials from Norway are in more intense colors and reveal a national preference for well defined patterns and bold contrasts between light and dark values.

    “Design in Scandinavia” has been made lively and stimulating through the juxtaposition of the self revealing arts and crafts of four mature, happily individualized nations. In turn, among the presentations of each country are to be seen infinite varieties of personal expression and dozens of highly original solutions to the problems of making beautiful the surroundings for life today.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1954, 014-015 View Original 1 . View Original 2
  • May 1954: Telecasts:
    Remote from The Brooklyn Museum over “The Home Show", NBC-TV, Channel 4, April 28. On 14 minutes.
    Material from show used on “Tex and Jinx" over NBC-TV, Channel 4, May 7. Quarter-hour discussion.

    Newspaper advances
    New York Journal-American, April 11
    New York Times, April 11
    The Brooklyn Eagle, April 12
    New York World-Telegram & Sun, April 14
    New York Post, April 14
    New York Herald-Tribune, April 14
    New York Journal-American, April 15
    New York Sunday News, April 18, full col. story, picture.
    The Brooklyn Eagle, April 19

    Actual Coverage
    New York Times Sunday Magazine, 2 pages, April 18
    New York Herald-Tribune “This Week", 2 pages, April 25
    The Brooklyn Eagle, 5 col. headline over story plus
    two 3-col. pictures, April 20
    The New York Times, April 20
    New York Herald-Tribune, April 20
    Retailing Daily, New York, April 19 (full page illustrated)
    New York Herald-Tribune, April 21
    The Brooklyn Eagle, April 21
    The New York Times, April 21
    Retailing Daily, 2 col. picture, April 21
    Retailing Daily, full page, also April 21
    New York Post, 2 col. picture, April 24
    Women's Wear Daily, 2 col. picture, April 23
    New York Sunday Mirror, April 25

    Half Page by Abraham & Straus saluting Museum show in The Brooklyn Eagle, April 27

    New York Herald-Tribune, April 22
    The Brooklyn Eagle, April 21

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1954, 010 View Original
Design in Scandinavia