In 2005, two ambitious local initiatives were launched that independently of each other argued for establishing a national centre in their particular community to commemorate Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun (1859–1952): one in Grimstad on the southern coast of Norway, and the other at Hamarøy in northern Norway. Both places boasted a special ownership to the world famous author, but only the northern initiative materialized and a new museum opened in time for Hamsun’s 150 year anniversary. Why did Grimstad’s project fail and Hamarøy’s succeed? How did The Knut Hamsun Centre in Hamarøy follow up their stated goals and ambitions when planning the exhibitions? And how did Grimstad motivate plans for a downscaled centre several years later? A major issue in the article as well as in the discussion of the projects, is how the initiators argue for celebrating an author who supported Hitler and the Nazis during the war. Rhetorical and textual analysis of four documents offer insight into deliberations of how to exhibit a problematic legacy.
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