Playing Pieces

MUNCH and KODE Museums

A stunning art exhibition for two clients in two venues: MUNCH in Oslo and KODE in Bergen.

Exhibition Design, Gallery Design, Graphic Design, Selected

‘Playing Pieces’ is a collaborative exhibition, sponsored by and featuring the extensive art collection of Norwegian philanthropic organisation Sparebankstiftelsen DNB – who also had a curatorial role in the project, together with the teams from MUNCH and KODE. Nissen Richards Studio were asked to create a single concept exhibition that would be recognisably the same for both venues, whilst being uniquely suited to the spaces available and the graphic identity of each institution.

The brief asked for ‘an exhibition experience that creates engagement, reflection and inclusion for a wide audience’ and looked ‘to show a diverse world-class art collection and ask critical questions about the stories we tell each other through art and the institutions that characterise cultural life in Norway.’

The specific location for the first show was the entire third floor of MUNCH, comprising of a 1,100 sq m of rectilinear, L-shaped floor space, divided into a large hall (810 sqm) and a small hall (290 sqm). The KODE exhibition location, also on the third floor of the museum, is comprised of three rooms and is formed of a central atrium space with two adjoining wings, as well as a ground floor introductory space.

The concept behind the shows was the presentation and thematicisation of Sparebankstiftelsen’s art collection, shedding light on the organisation’s activities as an art collector and its role in Norwegian art life, as well as the cultural relevance of each section’s artworks. The priority areas of that collection – embracing paintings, graphic works, photography and sculpture – formed the eight thematic sections of the exhibition, which are as follows: Nikolai Astrup, German Expressionism, Putting Munch in Context, Pioneering Women, Kurt Schwitters and Friends, Warhol After Munch, American Street Photography, New Playing Pieces.

The key to this unique challenge was to design a spatially-simple approach that could work in both spaces, with a clear exhibition identity created by bold use of a series of colours and texture, which are individual to the particular artist or group of artists that forms the focus of each main segment of the exhibition. Nissen Richards Studio underwent a long and careful process of collaboration with both clients in order to ensure equal ownership over the direction and the appropriateness of the results for both. Another key difference was the availability of the Munch Museum’s brand-new adaptable wall system for display, whilst at KODE purpose-built new display walls were created for the exhibition. The graphics treatment also needed to differ for each exhibition to reflect the graphic identity of the host museum.

The exhibition moves to Kode in the Autumn.


Munch Museum, and Kode


Oslo and Bergen, Norway


Exhibition Design
Graphic Design


Studio ZNA - lighting design
YOKE - digital design
SPEKTA - main contractor

photography: Gareth Gardner