Faces of Time

Time is central to our lives. Does time control us, or do we control time? The exhibition Faces of Time illustrates the design history of clocks and watches over the past 500 years and discusses the remarkable role played by time in our everyday lives.

Picture: Wristwatches, Cartier. Photo: Nick Welsh, Cartier Collection © Cartier 2007. Table clock. Ormolu and marble. France 1780. Wall clock, enamel. Björn Alskog, 1967.

Wristwatches, Cartier. Photo: Nick Welsh, Cartier Collection © Cartier 2007. Table clock. Ormolu and marble. France 1780. Wall clock, enamel. Björn Alskog, 1967.

The exhibition focuses primarily on the developement of mechanical clocks and watches over the past 500 years. More than 400 watches, clocks and other time measuring instruments ar on show. The exhibition lasts until Sunday 19 October.

Clocks and watches have always been prestigious objects, regardless of whether they have stood ticking away in the living room, lay hidden in pockets or served to adorn a wrist. Their shape has been modified to keep up with technology and the dictates of fashion. But their role as a status symbol has never been seriously questioned. The exhibition shows clocks and watches in an impressive variety of shapes and sizes. Half of them are from the museum's own collections, while half have been borrowed from private individuals, companies, palaces and public spaces. Exampels are Christer Fuglesang's space watch, the alarm clock that stopped when the Estonia went down, and his Majesty the King's private wristwatch. Cartier watches sprinkled with gems give us plenty of eye candy.
 
The exhibition also discusses the role of time measurement throughout history, the significance of clocks as symbols  and Time as a concept. Humans have always had an inbuilt ability to sense the passage of time. Our bodies signal fatigue, hunger and ageing. In other words, we work rather like Swedish cartoon character Skalman's food and sleep watch. But our ancestors weren't satisfied with just counting the wrinkles in their foreheads.

To measure time more accurately, they began to study the passage of the sun across the sky. The first sundial appeared in China, Babylon and Egypt as early as 500 BC. Clocks capable of measuring time after the sun had gone downs were also developed during antiquity. The measurement of time played a key role in the growth of civilisations. Some time during the Middle Ages, the hour glass and the first mechanical clocks appeared. Mankind had created an invaluable tool for the better organisation of society.
 
The Nationalmuseum will be publishing a catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition. Fifteen authors consider the precision technology of measuring time as well as the tempting luxury.
 
Special thanks to Fagerhults Belysning AB, Stjärnurmakarna AB, Pioneer Scandinavia AB, Seydon Ljusreklam, Upsize Rental AB and Optilia Instruments AB.
 
Exhibition Curator: Micael Ernstell
Exhibition Designer: Johan Rosenquist.


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Monday, Wednesday,
Friday–Sunday: 10–18
Tuesday, Thursday: 10–20

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