Reconstruction on Display: Arkitektenes høstutstilling 1947–49 as Site for Disciplinary Formation
With the liberation of Norway in 1945—after a war that left large parts of the country in ruins, had displaced tenfold thousands of people, and put a halt to civilian building projects—Norwegian architects faced an unparalleled demand for their services. As societal stabilization commenced, members of the Norwegian Association of Architects wondered: what would—and should—be the architect’s role in postwar society?
To publicly articulate a satisfying answer, NAL organized a series of architectural exhibitions in the years 1947–1949. Physically touring the length of the country and actively disseminated in various media outlets, Arkitektenes høstutstilling gave a broad audience access to the discursive field. While each exhibition dealt with the postwar rebuilding of Norway, the image presented of the architect evolved with every edition. The exhibition series was fueled by NAL’s anxieties about the architect’s societal role. Architectural exhibitions were seen as important tools for propaganda, and as potent sites for the formulation of professional identity. Through the short but energetic life of Arkitektenes høstutstilling, NAL launched a revived and more specialized profession.