Henrik Ibsen - On the Contrary

The exhibition about Henrik Ibsen's life and work

Just before the moment of his death, Henrik Ibsen sat up in bed and said in a loud, clear voice: "On the contrary" ("Tvert imod"). The farewell message can serve as a summary of Ibsen´s personality. He frequently protested and disputed. Also in his writing he demonstrated scepticism towards established truths, raised doubts, objected and asked compromising questions.

"Henrik Ibsen - on the contrary" is also the title of the exhibition which now starts in the reception and fills the entire apartment neighbouring Ibsen´s former home. The topics of the exhibition range from the purely personal, to Ibsen as a man of the theatre, to social issues, connecting the threads both in terms of cultural history and the history of ideas to the period in which he lived. We also wish to highlight the current relevance of the issues and to incite reflection on the part of the public over own life situation and the world we live in.

The aim of the exhibition is to depict both the human being and the writer Henrik Ibsen. A series of unique and highly personal possessions will be given a public viewing for the first time - among these a silk hat and coat, his General Certificate of Education, medals of honour, toiletry articles, suitcase and writing paraphernalia. The presentation has been made possible thanks to generous assistance on the part of Ambassador Tancred Ibsen and his wife.

In Ibsen´s day the theatre was an important social arena with significance for national development, culture and politics. Ibsen viewed himself as a citizen of the world; he travelled extensively and lived abroad for many years. The world´s most performed dramatist along with Shakespeare still has an explosive international force and is considered the most famous Norwegian of all time.

The exhibition shows the significance of Ibsen´s plays and the current relevance of the themes in terms of national and international issues. In spite of the fact that Ibsen was not active in politics in the practical sense, his opinions and attitudes are still considered to be controversial and dangerous.

Financial assistance: Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, Fritt Ord/Freedom of Expression Foundation, UNI Foundation and Veidekke ASA, Ibsen Year 2006.

Exhibition architect: Gudmundur Jonsson