The National Library of Norway

Tracing Harry Hole – exploring the world of Jo Nesbo’s world-famous detective

Exhibition Design, Graphic Design

An immersive labyrinthine exhibition at The National Library of Norway in Oslo, focusing on fictional character Harry Hole – ‘Oslo’s number one detective’ – created by multi-million-selling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø in his hugely-popular crime series. The exhibition, entitled ‘Labyrinth: Tracing Harry Hole’, is located in the Library’s 195 sq m first floor temporary exhibition space.

The form of the exhibition is inspired by the idea of the labyrinth, where the visitor, just like the hero detective of Nesbø’s books, follows a number of winding paths, whilst tracing threads of clues. The literal idea of a thread also relates to the labyrinths of classical Greek mythology, where Ariadne follows a thread through a labyrinth created for her by Theseus. The labyrinth forms the framework of the exhibition and is also its philosophical, ethical – even mythical – inspiration. In a traditional labyrinth, there is no centre or alternative way out – only the possibility of following the thread. The treatment of subject matter in Jo Nesbø’s crime novels – and the city he locates them in – is both theatrical and forensic, focusing on the gathering of evidence. Here, it’s as if the visitors themselves are characters, experiencing clues, evidence and context whilst using Inspector Harry Hole’s research-based methodology.

The exhibition is made up of a series of spaces which explore different themes relating to the Harry Hole novels. The visitor discovers a series of rooms within the labyrinth, as if negotiating a real city and coming across fragments of evidence. Themes that spin out of Jo Nesbø’s books and Harry Hole’s methodology are widened and examined, making use in part of the library’s incredible resources of reference books on everything from old city maps, forensic illustrations and medical diagrams of the human body to the history of Norwegian prisons as illustration.


The National Library of Norway


Oslo, Norway


Exhibition Design
Graphic Design


Studio ZNA - lighting design

photography: Gareth Gardner