Emotions in Antiquity and Ancient Egypt
Exhibition & Book Design


Graphic & Digital Design, Interior Architecture


On behalf of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Snøhetta designed the exhibition design, visual profile and catalogue for the exhibition Emotions in Antiquity and Ancient Egypt. As the title indicates, the exhibition displays precious ancient artefacts and sheds new light on how human emotions can be read into these historic objects, whether fear and reverence, love and joy, sorrow and loss or even hope.

Technical details

Exhibition, Books, Print & Publications, Visual Identity
Oslo, Norway

The exhibition’s focus on human emotion is inspired by Marina Prusac-Lindhagen’s cutting-edge academic research on emotions and archeological material. In the exhibition catalogue, Prusac-Lindhagen explains how emotions can be understood both as culturally specific and universal expressions. However, she argues, “[…] the ability to grasp and understand one’s own emotions and those of others is a fundamental quality of humans. [It] provides a figurative bridge connecting past, present and future”.

These ancient objects, most of them ornated utility articles, statues and glassware, but also two mummies that were given to Norway as a gift by King Oscar the 2nd, are displayed across a highly technical wooden table made from dark smoked oak measuring 15 x 3 meters.

Designed by Snøhetta and manufactured by Henriksen Snekkeri, the table places each object at eye level, creating a sense of proximity and mutuality between the visitor and humanity’s ancient ancestors while igniting the senses and the imagination.

The most delicate pieces of the collection are displayed out of reach or behind climatized UV glass cases. The latter are cleverly incorporated into the wooden table, ensuring the artefacts are securely stored while also allowing for the museum to easily undertake necessary maintenance routines.

The table becomes an installation, inviting visitors to sit down and even touch some of the displayed objects.