Exhibition Journal

The Exhibition at the VILLUM Window Collection, Copenhagen

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Window Research Institute meets VILLUM Window Collection

In 2018, VILLUM Window Collection (VWCO) received an unexpected visit from a small group of architecture students from Tokyo who were part of the Windowology project. Their research had led them to our window museum in Copenhagen, where they wanted to see the “Wall of Windows” designed by Rem Koolhaas.
When the students returned to Tokyo and told the Window Research Institute (WRI) about the window museum in Copenhagen, it prompted a visit from the WRI delegation on their way to London to plan the “Windowology” exhibition at Japan House. We were very honored to know that the WRI and its director had chosen to make a stop in Copenhagen just to see our museum.
It was during this visit I first heard about the “Windowology” exhibition and the plan to show it in Japan House Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, and London. During the visit I also asked whether it might be possible to show the exhibition at VWCO after London. Though they clearly hadn’t thought of the option, I could see they were open to it and thought it was a good idea.

The Windowology exhibition

The schedule for the exhibition shifted several times due to COVID-19, and in Los Angeles it only opened as a virtual exhibition. At its opening in London in December 2021, we were still affected by COVID-19 restrictions and exhibition director Tarō Igarashi was forced to participate over Zoom, as he was not allowed to travel to London.
I visited “Windowology: New Architectural Views from Japan” in London in November 2021 for an advance look. When I first saw the exhibition in real life, I was overwhelmed by its elegance and simplicity, especially by the way a relatively small exhibition conveyed so many stories about windows. The exhibit captivated me because it shows that the window is much more than just a building component, and for that reason I wanted the exhibition at VWCO in Copenhagen—as an eye-opener for our guests about the window’s importance for our civilization and cultures around the world.

Getting the Windowology exhibition to Copenhagen

From the beginning, my board and VKR Holding have fully supported bringing the exhibition to VWCO. So after I saw the exhibition in London and learned that its size would fit nicely here, the process of trying to bring it to Copenhagen really took off.
While the exhibition was in London, I was in constant dialogue with WRI about bringing it to Copenhagen and we were able to sort it out quite quickly. There were a few issues with the re-registration of the exhibition, potentially meaning that it would have to travel back to Tokyo before being sent to Copenhagen, a very costly process. But WRI quickly helped us avoid this re-registration, allowing us to receive it directly from London.
After many considerations, we decided to open “Windowology: New Architectural Views from Japan” on September 15th, 2022, partially to correspond with the calendar of the Japanese Ambassador to Denmark.
We received the exhibition on June 2nd, 2022 in 8 very large wooden boxes, which we had a little bit of trouble finding room for until they were to be unpacked in early September.

Setting up the exhibition in VWCO

Preparing for “Windowology” in VWCO was hectic to begin with, as we had to start by constructing an entirely new exhibition space. We emptied part of our storage space and built new walls. The planning and setup of the exhibition itself, however, went smoothly. Throughout the process we collaborated closely with the entire Japanese exhibition team consisting of project managers, graphic designers, and architects, all of which was mainly conducted through Zoom.
The Japanese project team designed the exhibition here at VWCO. We sent drawings, measurements, and photographs of the room, after which they drew up a detailed exhibition and graphics plan.
During the two weeks before the opening reception, the entire project team came to Copenhagen to set up the exhibition. They had a very detailed plan and overview of who was responsible for what. We had also hired our own carpenters and electricians to assist.
It was very exciting to finally open the eight boxes with the exhibits. Everything was thoroughly described and documented, making it a quick and painless process to unpack and place the items in the VWCO showroom.
It may not have been necessary for the whole project team to be present in Copenhagen for the setup and opening, but everyone wanted to come and experience the exhibition in person, as doing so had not been possible in the previous locations due to COVID-19.

Opening the exhibition

The opening of the exhibition went very well, with participation by the Japanese Ambassador to Denmark, the Chairman of VKR Holding, and the local mayor, among others. There were speeches by WRI director Sako Yasunori and exhibition director Tarō Igarashi. The following day, we invited architecture students and other interested parties to an “After party” with the opportunity to experience the exhibition before the public and to hear the lecture “History and Representation of Windows in Japan” by Tarō Igarashi.
It is incredible to know that on the other side of the world someone is working with the same subject as us. It has also been an educational, inspiring, and huge experience to collaborate with the entire Japanese project team. We have kept in touch after the opening and see many opportunities for future collaboration. Currently, we are working on organizing events and marketing the exhibition in 2023, when Copenhagen receives the status of “World Architecture Capital” and hosts the UIA23 world congress for architects.

Dorthe Bech-Nielsen Head of VILLUM Window Collection

Graduated as an architect from the Aarhus School of Architecture and completed a master’s degree in journalism at the Danish School of Journalism. Worked with the dissemination of architecture and building for more than 25 years.

Head of the VILLUM Window Collection since 2011 and has, in collaboration with Rosan Bosch Studio, been behind the transformation of a historical window collection into a modern museum that conveys the importance of the window for people’s access to light, air, and views.

Also responsible for two temporary exhibitions at the VILLUM Window Collection. In 2018, the “Wall of Windows”—a wall containing 68 historic English windows. “Wall of Windows” was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas for the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014, with the theme “Elements of Architecture.” In 2022, the exhibition “Windowology: New Architectural Views from Japan.”