Bergsveinn Thorsson

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I am a postdoctoral felllow in Science Fictionality at the University of Oslo. I hold a doctoral degree in museology from the same university where I examined how museums assemble anthropocenes in diverse ways through multiple practices, expertise, objects and exhibitions. My background is both in museum studies and practice, with working experience from the museum field in Iceland.

My research interests are on the intersection of environmental humanities and museology, specifically the emergence of climate change, anthropocene and sustainability in the cultural field, museums and heritage.

I am affiliated with CoFutures: Pathways to Possible Presents a research group on contemporary global futurisms. Currently, I work on speculation and methods of diversifying future imaginaries through science fictional thinking, its impact and potentials promoting alternative, positive and sustainable futures.

Academic interests

  • Environmental Humanities, Museum and Heritage Studies.
  • Science Fiction and transmedial Speculative Futurisms. 
  • Sustainability, Anthropocene, Climate Change Communication.
  • Climate Justice, the ethics and politics of environmental issues, in arts, culture and heritage. 

Assembling Anthropocenes

In my doctoral thesis "Assembling the Anthropocene: How do museums engage with the global environmental crisis through objects, exhibition and museums work?" I examined how the concept of the Anthropocene has emerged in museums as a framework to engage with environmental issues. Recognising the complexity of museums and the work they perform, I used assemblage theory to analyse how museums bring together different elements of museum work to assemble the Anthropocene. Three articles presented in the thesis aim to answer the overarching research questions: What kind of a framework is the Anthropocene for museums? How do the different museum practices, techniques, and methods contribute to assembling the Anthropocene?

The analyses examined cases on three different scales, from objects to an exhibition, to a museum as an institution. The first analysis highlighted the significance of the histories and agencies of diverse materials that come together in two museum objects, a plastiglomerate from Museon in The Hague and a fatberg at the Museum of London. The second article examined an exhibition at the Deutsches Museum, revealing how the exhibition created different versions of the Anthropocene by bringing together various objects and display technologies. The third article analysed how a museum attempts to embrace the meaning and implications of the Anthropocene through the tracing of how the Carnegie Museum of Natural History mobilises the concept by assembling different research, collections and communication activities within the institution.

The thesis concluded that museums assemble the Anthropocene in different ways, enabling them to think and act cohesively on the impact of anthropogenic changes on the planet. Assembling the concept, museums establish a synergy between artistic initiatives, natural and cultural history, reunite nature and culture in their work, and put emphasis on the agential capacity of museum objects.

    Background

    Education

    • PhD in Museology. University of Oslo, Faculty of Humanities. 2019

    • MA in Museology. University of Iceland, School of Social Sciences. Graduated 2012.
    • Diploma in Pedagogy. University of Iceland. School of Education.Incl. teacher’s certificate. Graduated 2009.
    • BA in Art History. University of Iceland. School of Humanities. Graduated 2008.

    Other Experience

    • Guest editor for the special issue "Curating Climate" in Nordisk Museologi, published February 2021.

    • Main organiser for the international workshop “Curating climate - Museums as ‘contact zones’ of climate research, education and activism” arranged by the Curating Climate Collaboratory in October 2019.

    • Teaching and research (Completion Grant) at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. 2019-2020.

    • Manager of Museum Education. Reykjavik City Museum. Full-time employment from 2011-2016.
    • Adjunct lecturer. University of Iceland. The School of Social Sciences, Museum Studies. From 2012-2015.
    • Chairman of the Board of Icelandic Museum's Association (FÍSOS). From 2013-2016.
    • Various projects and work for Reykjavík Art Museum and National Gallery of Iceland. From 2008-2011.
    Tags: Museums and Museology, Environmental Humanities, Cultural Studies, Anthropocene

    Publications

    • Thorsson, Bergsveinn (2020). Walking through the Anthropocene: Encountering materialisations of the geological epoch in an exhibition space. Nordisk Museologi.  ISSN 1103-8152.  28(1), s 103- 119 . doi: https://doi.org/10.5617/nm.7986 Full text in Research Archive.
    • Thorsson, Bergsveinn (2018). When matter becomes a monster: Examining anthropocenic objects in museums. Museological Review.  ISSN 1354-5825.  22, s 44- 53

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    • Thorsson, Bergsveinn (2020). Curating Climate - Museums as contact zones of climate research, education and activism. Nordisk Museologi.  ISSN 1103-8152.  30(3), s 4- 13 . doi: https://doi.org/10.5617/nm.8625
    • Thorsson, Bergsveinn (2019). Assembling the Anthropocene: How do museums engage with the global environmental crisis through objects, exhibitions and museum work?. Show summary

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    Published June 6, 2016 2:17 PM - Last modified Mar. 22, 2021 3:06 PM