In 2014, ARKEN is giving half of the museum over to kids. The Model, a 1968 playground by the Danish artist Palle Nielsen (b. 1942), is being remade in the Art Axis. Kids will get to bounce in foam, paint and draw, dress up and play recorded music – it’s their playground.
‘It’s only an exhibition to those who don’t play.’
In 1968, Stockholm’s Moderna Museet was transformed into a giant activity playground. Over three riotous weeks, tens of thousands of kids ran free in the museum’s main hall, generating a lot of media coverage. The playground consisted of a big wooden structure with no predefined play functions, which kids climbed in and jumped from, built on and painted – with no adult interference at all. They dressed up in old theatrical costumes, listened to loud music and exercised their creativity with paintbrushes, hammer and saw or just their bare hands.
The playground was made by the Danish artist Palle Nielsen in collaboration with Action Dialogue (Aktion Samtal), a Swedish activist group, at a time when children and children’s rights were a hot political topic. Titled The Model. A Model for a qualitative society it was at once a pioneering social experiment, a critique of the art museum as an institution, and an Actionist artwork.
The Model at ARKEN
Palle Nielsen is now recreating The Model at ARKEN, and children will once again get a chance to play on their own terms. A lot has changed since 1968 – children’s place and importance in society, the impact of technology on everyday life, the values we associate with a good childhood, and the space we give children for free play.
The new The Model is not a historical reconstruction of the 1968 exhibition but a space for children of today. What hasn’t changed is Nielsen’s conviction that children’s freedom and creativity can show the way to a better society.