Presentation of the project.
The Museum of Work has created the project “Country of industry” in order to give a unified picture of some of the most important questions of today, such as work, globalisation and welfare. We want to offer young visitors an opportunity to explore the vital questions of the present; which educational line shall I choose, which future can I visualise for myself and where can the jobs be found? In order that the visitors can handle these current questions, we must present a historical background to the events that made Sweden the industrial nation that it is today. By connecting the stories from the recent past to the questions raised by the immediate present, it will be possible for visitors to query Sweden of the past, Sweden of the present and the Sweden of tomorrow.
Museum of Work.
The Museum of Work is housed in the so-called “Flat Iron”. This house is often described as the most beautiful industrial building in the country and lies at the heart of Norrköpings internationally unique industrial landscape.
The Museum of Work is one of the most frequently visited museums in Sweden with an average of 200.000 visitors per year. We arrange 35 – 40 exhibitions every year and run programme- and educational activities.
Every activity is supplemented by a café, restaurant, shop and several conference rooms. This is the reason the Museum has become a popular meeting place for, among others, firms, researchers and organisations.
The exhibition “Country of industry” will run for five years. As it mostly sends its message by means of films, pictures and sounds, the software will be subject to continual change. The lengthy exhibition time guarantees a long term programme- and educational investment for senior grades, high schools and technical colleges, theoretical programmes and universities.
The project “Country of industry” has evolved from a group in which representatives from Swedish Industry, universities, archives and trade unions participate. The Chairman of the group is Professor in economic history at Uppsala University and KTH, Maths Isacson.
The Museum of Work aims to build an exhibition that explains our present and raises questions on the future. The questions and themes that we deal with are however so huge and all-embracing that one lone organisation cannot possibly cover the whole field. We will therefore build the exhibition “Country of industry” as a changeable meeting place for the younger generation, firms, researchers, schools, trade unions and other organisations with a common interest in questions on the future.
“Country of industry” is aimed at school pupils and teachers as a special target group. We focus mostly on the high schools and comprehensive schools but also include universities. A group of special importance is the trade and handicraft trainees. The focus on school pupils makes the exhibition of special interest to firms and trade unions as a place to meet future employees and members. This is of some urgency, not least because firms have difficulty in recruiting qualified personnel for handicrafts or industrial work, while the open unemployment increases, as shown for example, in the dwindling available places in the media.
The young visitors we hope to attract to the exhibition are on the threshold of choosing their future careers. We want to help them in their enquiries about work, life, environment, welfare and living quarters in an increasingly competitive world. Do the young people of Sweden see the chances for development and have they a future in industry during globalisation, or is it frightening for them to see their country become a part of a strongly competitive global network? How does one choose a profession and future today? Which work will be carried out in Sweden and how will one work, live and exist here? The project will take into consideration the school teaching plan so that the teacher can build up a long term activity around the exhibition and work with the history of the twentieth century as an integral part of the education field.
We want to find ways to allow young people to inspire and influence us in our project work, for that reason we formed a reference group of pupils from the high school and comprehensive schools, vocational training schools and theoretical programmes. Which questions attract and encourage their influence? We believe that it involves, for example, environment, globalisation, morals and identity.
It is of utmost importance for the quality of the exhibition and with a degree of urgency that we succeed in encouraging the school pupils to take an active part in the process by filling the “Country of industry” with exciting contents. There are therefore important questions to be asked of the group;
Is it classed as social failure to pursue a career in handicrafts when most jobs are to be found in industry? Why do educational courses for a career in the media attract so many young people when the chances of landing a job are so minimal? Why do so many seek further education in the hotel branch, where wage levels are low and working conditions so hard? What is needed to create the good conditions which ensure a nations success? Should Sweden as a community persuade the youth of today to become industrial workers or engineers or should we encourage them to choose their own careers?
The only certainty in the future is that it will hold surprises and amazement. The adult world therefore finds it difficult to give firm advice or offer clear-cut choices to the youth of today. Instead we should give them the tools and ideas with which to build their own future. Because the future is a continuation of history, we are convinced that the knowledge of history is one of the best tools with which one can understand the future.
History and the present
To ensure that “Country of industry” will be a successful meeting place, where both the present and the future can be discussed, it is of greatest importance that we return to our roots. The community in which we live is still greatly influenced by the highly industrialised epoch, the years between 1930 and 1980. The mentality and way of thinking that were apparent then were naturally well-fitted to the community of the time, but are still regarded as normal by many of us. One example is the presentation of large scale effects: the idea that anything mass produced must be advantageous was first seriously established within the industrial sector. As mass production, rationalisation and long series created welfare within the industrial sector; it was only a short step to the belief that the same recipe could benefit other community sectors. The idea was tested in the field of geriatric care and in schools and blossomed further within the building sector. Sweden still remembers the “million programme” when one million new homes were mass produced.
“Country of industry” is chiefly aimed at pupils from high schools, comprehensive schools, vocational training schools, technical colleges and universities, young people who are on the point of choosing a career. With the help of moving pictures, authentic TV- and radio transmissions, film, sound, environment and objects, we would like to narrate the history of how the industrial landscape in which they grew up, first appeared. The aim of this glance in the mirror is to illuminate the present. We also hope that it will help to make a well balanced choice of a future career. Our other main targets are firms, their employees and trade union members.
This was the way that industry became an inspiration and a lifestyle, a recipe for success and a model for community planning, production and consumption, including the arts and architecture. Today the idea that the total dominance of large scale measures holds only advantages, meets with resistance. In many different areas we have seen how the elderly, school pupils and residents can not be treated in the same way as industrial products. The same reaction has been found on other levels. Sweden in the twenty-first century can only be understood by its reflected image in the context of an industrial community. The probable reason for this is that the highly industrialized epoch was such a success story that the established patterns of thought still have a tempting attraction for us all.
The Museum of Work in Norrköping lies in the centre of an industrial landscape. The area has been renovated and will be preserved for coming generations but as it is today, the landscape is little more than scenery. The exhibition, “Country of industry”, will attempt to change this by letting the exhibition focus on the industrial landscape of Norrköping. The local government in Norrköping will take part in the concentration onf “Country of industry” by the Museum of Work by cooperating with the City Museum, the City Library, the Art Museum of Norrköping and the Cultural School of Norrköping.
The industrial landscape and the reminders of the highly industrialised epoch in Norrköping will therefore be described by the Museum of Work and the City Museum of Norrköping. The Museum of Work will present the national history of Sweden as an industrial nation. The industrial landscape and all the resultant distinguishing features will be placed in their correct relationship, which will make both buildings and surroundings explainable, readable and understandable.
The City Museum of Norrköping will present the local history which will be explained in depth by the Cultural School teachers and illustrated by suitable works of art at the Museum of Art. The City library will organise study circles and evening meetings with authors.
The Museum of Work and the City Museum, two institutions that lie parallel to each other in the heart of the industrial landscape, will together form a very special Visitors Centre for the industrial landscape and for Norrköping in general. Here the surrounding environment will be pointed out and explained to the visitors.
A new way of working with the media of the twentieth century.
The media of the twentieth century; film, photography, radio and TV will be the most important communication method for the exhibition. We will very carefully use these media as a source of independent information, as oracles and as relics but not as illustrations. The State Sound and Picture archives will be of great assistance in our work (SLBA), and is an integral partner in the project. Apart from the film and radio that SLBA places at our disposal, their contribution of research capacity and competence via the Archives research leader, Pelle Snickars, is of great value.
Programme- and Educational activity.
An all-embracing programme- and educational activity will be closely tied to the exhibition, “Country of industry”, offering guided tours, workshops and seminaries. As the exhibition is mainly meant to interest the younger generation, the activities will focus on questions and conversations that affect the younger peoples present and future. We want to build bridges between the generations and capture the living voices of the people who were active between 1930 and 1980, the people who were actually there.
The project Industrial Country will issue a research anthology which will be published with support from the Jubilee Fund of the Bank of Sweden. The anthology will be written by established authorities on the subject and will be all about the cultural inheritance of the industrial community.
The exhibitions five parts.
1. The endless band – in theme and form.
An integral part of the exhibition is a 160 meter long endless transport band. This will hold day-to-day articles, innovations and artefacts which can be mixed and placed in chronological order. The objects illustrate the different periods and this is emphasised by the contemporary radios and transistors which circulate on the band and play authentic radio programmes of the period. What was transmitted on the radio before and after the leading Swedish politician, Per Albin Hansson, gave his famous “people homes” speech 1928? What was sent out onto the wavelengths when the German invasion of Poland was announced in 1939? The radios on the endless band send a mixture of politics, news bulletins, and “hits” from the thirties, Beatles pop from the sixties and poodle rock from the eighties.
Before designing the form of the exhibition “Country of industry” a competition in architecture was organised by the Museum of Work, which requested four different design suggestions. The task was sent to four highly qualified bureaux and the one that won most approval was from the firm of architects, aPolis. The picture shows the Arena with its iconography, the endless band and the window portraits. These are internally illuminated at night to attract the attention of curious passers-by.
2 The Arena.
The arena is planned as a meeting place in time and space. Huge monumental objects are presented here, such as industrial robots and cars. With the help of ten big picture projectors, that project the giant size pictures from floor to ceiling, about 4,5 meters high, we can liven up the exhibition theme, in both pictures and sound. The contents of the picture show can be continually changed during the five year long life-time of the exhibition, to keep it up to date and to offer reasons for a renewed visit. From the arena, the visitor has a birds eye view over the entire exhibition, with the endless band and the theme rooms that will be placed on each side of the Arena.
3 The 1300 working life museums in Sweden.
The industrial history of Sweden is very often to be found on show in the 1300 working life museums throughout the entire country. A museum of working life is often run by volunteers and specialises in local industrial history. The Museum of Work lies at the axle of this new popular movement. We aim to make a place in “Country of industry” where many working life museums can present themselves through the services of someone “who was there”. We want one person to film and report on work, production, leisure time and life in general in a small part of the industrial nation of Sweden.
4 The Theme Room.
The heart of the exhibition consists of ten theme rooms in which the “Country of industry” of Sweden is presented. For example under the theme Children in an Industrial Country we attempt to discover what enchanted and frightened the children in the period between 1930 and today. An investigation into attitudes, made during 2006 showed that children of today are more worried about getting fat than if their parents will die! Which worries had the children during wartime fighting, the cold war, the years of progress, the oil crisis and the happy eighties? Other headlines will be:
4.1 Work in Country of industry.
4.2 Life in Country of industry.
4.3 Children in Country of industry.
4.4 Dreams and Visions in Country of industry.
4.5 Consumption in Country of industry.
4.6 Entrepreneurs in Country of industry.
4.7 Power in Country of industry.
4.8 Leisure in Country of industry.
4.9 The Future in Country of industry
4.10 The world in Country of industry.
5. The Cinema.
The foremost medium of the twentieth century was, without doubt, the film. A cinema will therefore be placed in Country of industry, where documentaries, propaganda films, advertisement films and entertainment films will be shown. The Museum of Work has established a cooperation with The Swedish States Sound and Picture Archive (SLBA), as we have previously mentioned. SLBA will be a fully-fledged partner in the project Industrial Country.
In order to present the theme of the exhibition we will create various room installations. The narratives can be presented in height, behind glass, but fully accessible to the visitors (who can find for themselves how it was to be an industrial worker 1930 – 1980)
Our vision for the Industrial country – a regional meeting place for development.
The vision of the Museum of Work is to present an area of concentrated knowledge on Sweden as an industrial nation and thus create a foundation for fruitful discussions on the present and the future. The exhibition will thus become a forum for debates on the visions of our present period on a future Sweden in a global perspective.