IVLP Alumni Spotlight: Examining Museum Administration in the United States

Dr. Knut Ljøgodt


IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives. Here we feature the director of the Nordic Institute of Art who participated on the IVLP in 2013. The participant spent three weeks in the United States examining museum administration and exploring the role of art museums in U.S. society to create and sustain regional and cultural identity.

Visitor: Dr. Knut Ljøgodt
Title: Director, Nordic Institute of Art
Country of Origin: Norway
Itinerary: Washington, DC; Philadelphia, PA; Los Angeles, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Dallas, TX; and Chicago, IL
IVLP Project: Art Museums in US Society (2013)

What have you been up to since your IVLP experience?

A couple of years ago, I left the Northern Norway Art Museum after eight years as its Director, as my tenure ended. Before that, we established on my initiative a satellite in the Arctic, Kunsthall Svalbard, funded by the Norwegian Government; recognizing the increasing global interest in the Arctic region. It opened in February 2015 in the presence of H.M. Queen Sonja of Norway and the Norwegian Minister of Culture. We also initiated some very interesting international collaborations, resulting in exhibitions of the Norwegian Romantic Peder Balke at the National Gallery of London and later at the Met in New York, as well as a show of Samí art at Scandinavia House, New York and Anchorage Museum of Art, among other projects.

Recently, I founded the Nordic Institute of Art, an independent organization devoted to stimulating interest in and research on historical and modern art from the Nordic countries in an international context, as well as bringing international impulses to Scandinavia. Hopefully, it will bring more Scandinavian art to the US audience, and perhaps also present American art to my own parts of the world. In addition, I have started to work on a couple of new books.

What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on your IVLP experience have you started to apply in your organization or your work.

The purpose of my American grand tour was manifold. I visited several US museums to explore their collections as well as to meet colleagues and network. So, we talk about at least a couple of lessons.

In particular, I was interested in seeing and learning more about American art history, with a focus on early landscape painting known as the Hudson River School. This is an interest I hope to be able to pursue in the years to come, and perhaps organize an exhibition comparing American and Scandinavian landscape painting, as I believe there are many parallels.

Further, I was keen to learn more about how US museums are organized and operate. In general, the American art scene is much more advanced in collaborating with private patrons than here in Norway. But this is a discussion more and more relevant also to our domestic art scene, and I am happy to say that my trip gave me a highly relevant insight in this field.

What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the US?

All the people from the Meridian International Center, at the different institutions, and the volunteers met me with such professionalism, friendliness and openness, which was worth the trip alone, and they organized a highly interesting program for me. I have stayed in touch with many of the people I met, but alas lost contact with some. To all of you, I would sincerely thank you for your commitment, and I hope to see you again, and perhaps even collaborate with some of you.

In a changing world, and a time of a different climate, it is more important than ever that the people of our countries should remain friends and work together.