Journey to America
Photo: Tore H. Røyneland / Henie Onstad Archive
The exhibition Journey to America opened on June 24th and lasted until September 16th 1984.
The exhibition had a wide perspective on the Norwegian emigration, all the way back from Cleng Pearson’s journey in 1825 and all the way up until the present time with Norwegian students at American universities.
Between 1825 and 1930 approximately 800 000 Norwegians traveled to follow the American dream. In the exhibition visitors were presented to the destinies of the Norwegian-American emigrants and what impulses they sent back home. The exhibition rooms contained both scenography and large photographs - real pictures taken by the travelers. The Norwegian photographer Andreas "Andrew" Larsen Dahl was one of them, with pictures taken in the 1870s. There were also pictures of reenacted scenarios.
The core of the exhibition were the siblings Ole and Sigrid, whom, on a day in May 1892, traveled from a life in poverty at the Rønningen farm in Norway to America. Through changing scenography, visitors were presented their story from their first dream of America until they reached old age, and the life of their descendants in "today's" America.
Outside the Art Center a fifty two feet five copy of The Statue of Liberty, the first thing that welcomed the emigrants to America, was raised. Down by the docks, the visitors could take the boat Christiane over to Ellis Island, which was in fact Veritasbryggen. From there they could travel back to the Art Center in a prairie wagon.
There were also an affiliated changing exhibition of young, Norwegian artists who had worked, or at the time still worked, in the USA. Among these were Ståle Vold, Kaare Rafoss, Kjell Erik Killi Olsen, Bård Breivik, Jan Groth and the third generation Norwegian-American artist, Geoffrey Hendricks.
"There are 3,6 million people in America of Norwegian descent, plus a few who strongly denies it".
The exhibition was extremely popular and had about 1000 visitors a day.
Words: Martine Hoff Jensen