The Magpie’s Nest, Norwegian Building, Museum of Decorative Arts and Design Bergen

The Magpie’s Nest Bergen, Norway : Kunstindustrimuseum

Bergen Silver Collection Exhibition – design by Kristin Jarmund Architects

5 Oct 2009

The Magpie’s Nest

Date built: 2009

Design: Kristin Jarmund Architects

The Magpie's Nest, Bergen Silver Collection, Norway

Exhibition design for the Bergen Silver Collection, Bergen, Norway

The design is conceived as a magpie’s nest

Photos by the photographer Magnus Skrede


Bergen has through hundreds of years been Norway’s most important manufacturer of beautiful and prestigious objects in both silver and gold. These objects have been important markers and symbols of both public and private life and are sought after as collector’s items in the rest of Europe.

More than 600 objects are now on show at the Permanenten collection of Silver and Gold in Bergen’s Kunstindustrimuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts and Design). The exhibition is acquired from several sources, the most important being Christian Sveaas’ unique private collection of Bergen Silver and from the Kunstindustrimuseum in Bergen with several central pieces from it’s considerable silver collection.

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The Magpie’s nest
The bird’s nest in nature is an easily recognisable structure meant to shelter and to mark the bird’s boundaries. The nests are constructed of organic material, such as twigs and grass, and are built to blend in with the surroundings. Some nest’s are perfect bowl forms, whilst others look more like abstract sculptures. The Magpie’s nest is in the last category; partially built from course branches.

In its nest the Magpie lays eggs, hatches them and nurtures their siblings until they are able to fly. The Magpie returns to the same nest year after year, repairing and adding to it as long as its in use. Due to this, old Magpie’s nests can look like not much more than a bunch of twigs high up in a tree.

The Magpie has a main characteristic which is often described in literature, arts and not least in fairytales; it steals silver! A high number of ornithologists have reported findings of a high quantity of cutlery in some Magpie’s nests. The birds weight about 250 grams, but can lift around 100 grams, which has resulted in relatively large silver objects being found in their nests.

The main characteristic for the object’s on display are that they are small and should be studied close up and be seen from all sides. Because of this, the concept was that the objects should be presented in a horizontal construction long enough for them to be studied in and under eye height.

The Magpie’s Nest makes this possible; a spatial composition of horizontal display cabinets allow the object’s to be studied from both sides and above. The nest is placed centrally in the room, draped around two columns (wood trunks) with paths around. An opening in the nest’s construction allows the exhibition to be seen from the inside.

Visually the nest is a combination of stacked glass components with interwoven solid branches. This gives the nest a nuanced but gentle play, reflecting light beautifully whilst creating a neutral backdrop for the exhibited objects.

The nest’s offset position in the room creates a space to assemble around 30-40 people at one end of the room. The proposed wall by the entrance door shields the room from casual viewing and gives the audience a slower approach to the room’s content.

Bergen Silver Collection Exhibition – Design Information

Location: Bergen, Norway
Building Type: Exhibition Design
Project Scope: Full Contract
Client: Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum
Project Team: Kristin Jarmund, Graeme Ferguson, Ola Helle, Ingrid Løvstad Magnus Skrede

Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter AS mnal are based in Oslo, Norway

Location: Bergen, Norway, northern Europe

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