Scandinavian Discussion Group – 1998 Description of Exhibit

Trolls, Mrs. Pepperpot and Beyond: Celebrating Norwegian Children’s Books

A Traveling Exhibit by Capital Children’s Museum
Washington, D.C.

From the opening display of a children’s book first printed in 1798, to collections of folktales by Asbjørnsen and Moe, to serial comic books of the 1940’s, to a multi-media computer work station for referencing the new CD-ROM version of the 1990’s international bestseller by Jostein Gaarder, Sofie’s World, Trolls, Mrs. Pepperpot and Beyond will familiarize America’s families and youth with Norway, its geography, history, and culture, as well as its exceptional children’s literature.

Nine distinct stations interweave the development of children’s literature with the history of Norway. The exhibit contains photographs (of people and scenes, both urban and rural), portraits, maps, and artifacts (books, decorative arts, etc.). The exhibit premieres at Capital Children’s Museum (CCM) in Washington D.C. from May through August of 1998. Starting in the fall it will travel for two years to at least eight other sites in the United States, including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and San Francisco.

From the collections of folktales from the oral tradition, to Viking sagas, poetry, picture books, contemporary fairy tales, and from young adult novels, to plays, comic books and serials, Norway’s children’s literature is written with a distinctive flavor and style. Additionally, Norwegian children’s literature has affected Norway’s history. For example, during World War II, Norwegian children’s literature was used to ridicule the occupying Nazis and to convey messages to members of the resistance movement. During the 1950’s, the author Thorbjørn Egner had a significant effect on the entire region through his classic tale Karius and Baktus, which is credited with improving the dental hygiene in all of Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and Germany. All of these elements are drawn together and showcased in the exhibit.

CCM, founded in 1974, is one of the top ten children’s museums in the United States. The Museum houses more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space and serves approximately 180,000 visitors annually. CCM is highly regarded for its design of complete cultural environments that accurately reflect life in foreign countries. When CCM opened its premiere, and still most popular exhibit, Mexico, in 1979, it was the country’s first permanent, large-scale, participatory cross-cultural exhibit for children. CCM’s other cross-cultural exhibits have included A Festival of India for Children, From the Hands of Thailand, and currently under development is Japan.

Bob Evans
Capital Children’s Museum
800 Third Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Also see the bibliography from the exhibit.