Bergsveinn Thorsson

Image of Bergsveinn Thorsson
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Phone +47 22854255
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 P. A. Munchs hus 0371 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1010 Blindern 0315 OSLO

Academic interests

  • Environmental humanities, museum and heritage studies.
  • Anthropocene and climate change in museums and heritage.
  • Sustainability, sustainable development and just transition.
  • Environmental justice, decolonization and community engagement in museums.

Doctoral thesis description

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.

Research projects and working groups



  • PhD in Museology. University of Oslo, Factulty of Humanities. Defended 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

  • Organiser for the workshop "Curating climate - Museums as ‘contact zones’ of climate research, education and activism" held in Oslo, Norway October 28-29, 2019.
  • 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.
  • Teacher and organiser for a seminar on Museum Education in Hrafnseyri, West-Iceland. From 2010-2013
  • Teacher in Comprehensive secondary School, Borgarholtsskóli, Reykjavík, Iceland. From 2009-2011.
  • 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


  • 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 (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. 10, 2020 2:58 PM