A visual flight of fancy through the Nordic countries as envisioned in travel posters! This is what can be expected when our playful design exhibition opens at Nordiska museet in Stockholm.
The exhibition charts the way the Nordic countries made a place for themselves on the European tourist map; with slow chugging along magnificent fjords, wholesome outdoor life in exotic mountain scenery, and night trains to the rip-roaring amusements of Copenhagen.
The historical posters mirror the new phenomenon of the early 20th century – leisure time – and the dream of travelling.
In the 19th century, steamships and railway lines brought tourists to increasingly distant locations – eventually as far as to the Nordic countries. As the travel industry was established, a new art form emerged with it; the illustrated travel poster, which flourished until it was gradually replaced by photo advertising in the 1960s.
March 11 2022 sees the opening of a poster exhibition, charting the way the Nordic countries made a place for themselves on the European tourist map in the first half of the 20th century. The posters also reveal how popular it was to travel within the Nordic countries, already from the start: the exotic was right on the other side of the border!
Dazzling and artistic travel posters tempted the onlooker with comfortable voyages by ship, and with breathtaking outdoor scenery offering mountains, fjords, lakes and pocket-size capital cities teeming with historical sights.
The exhibition includes some 130 vintage travel posters from all five Nordic countries. The posters are produced between circa 1890 and 1960, and have never before been shown together. All posters in the exhibition are vintage original prints, and comprise a unique whole, created by poster artists who, in co-operation with nimble ink slingers and able admen painted a picture of the Nordic countries as a paradise for any traveller.
The posters are products of their time, and mirror, too, what leisure travel to and within the Nordic countries was like – and how it developed during the first half of the 20th century. From the many comforts of first-class onboard travel, on to brisk walking tours and then skiing holidays for the whole family. And when air travel took over, noisy but swift, nothing would ever be the same again.
Today, the Nordic countries and the rest of the world face questions about what future sustainable travel might look like. Camping holidays and holidays by train or bike are once again very popular. Discussions about travel do provoke a lot of feelings.
Looking back at the history of tourism, we find elements that have impacted our travelling, and might inspire us to (better and) less destructive ways of travelling in the future.
Will it be like the classic posters render it, slow and sweet for the bon vivant? Or will future travels take place in our imagination only, for example through virtual reality? The imagery of the posters provide inspiration for the journey of our dreams, now and in the future.
An international competition is hosted in conjunction with the exhibition; My Norden Poster 2022, announcing a call for new interpretations of illustrated travel posters, which promote sustainable travel, and the Nordic countries as a region of tourism. A minimum of five finalists will have their work displayed in the exhibition, as a contemporary comment to the vintage posters.
The exhibition is open from March 11 to November 2, 2022, at Nordiska museet in Stockholm.