This small exhibition, in The Old Library, presents children’s drawings made for a drawing competition launched by the magazine Folket i Bild, 1938 – 57. The drawings give an idea of how children perceived their contemporary world, but they also reflect a new approach to teaching art in school.
The Nationalmuseum has a unique collection of children’s drawings from around the Second World War. It consists of entries for a drawing competition launched by the weekly magazine Folket i Bild in 1938 and shown at the Museum every year from 1940 to 1957. The competition was open for primary and secondary school pupils aged six to fifteen and had a new theme each year.
Many of the images are characterized by the then ongoing Second World War, but there are also drawings that show a happier everyday life with motifs from school and leisure activities.
Svenskarna i allvarstider, by Barbro Ahlström, 12 years. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
Mörkläggning i Norrköping, by Anne-Marie Andersson 14 years. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
Tyska permittenttrupper passera Hälsingborg, Evelyn Andersson 12 years. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
Mörkläggning i vår by, Gudrun Danielsson 11 years. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
Beredskapsarbete, Gunilla XXX. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
Marscherande soldater, Inga-Lisa Eklund 12 years. Pencil and watercolour on paper.
The competition had two purposes: to promote interest in art education, and to encourage young people to engage in creative activities. It was organised in collaboration with the Teckningslärarnas Riksförbund (the then national federation for art teachers) and Ragnar Hoppe, who was head of the Museum’s department of drawings and prints. The winning entries were chosen by a jury consisting of drawing instructors and school teachers and a representative of the Nationalmuseum. The prize was a sum of money that went towards a trip for the whole class – no individual prizes were awarded. Each class was allowed to submit a maximum of five drawings, selected by their teacher.
The competition soon became a success, and the number of participating classes grew immensely. In 1947, the Riksförbundet för bildande konst (the then national organisation for art education) put together a touring exhibition of the best drawings that had been shown at the Museum.
These drawings give an idea of how children perceived their contemporary world, but they also reflect a new approach to teaching art in school. Education was changing at the time. Instead of the previous focus on developing talent and skills, through studies of subjects such as perspective, pupils were now encouraged to express their ideas more freely. However, the pictures demonstrate that the older ideals still prevailed in art instruction in the 1940s.
Some twenty drawings are on show. Since they are very fragile they will be exchanged during the exhibition period. Your are welcome to pop in to the library now and then to expericence new sets of drawings.
The Old Library
In the Old Library, on the middle floor, material from the Art Library and the archives of the Nationalmuseum is exhibited. The collections contain many stories about art, the art scene and the Museum’s history and exhibitions. Graphic design and Swedish book production are also highlighted here.