Rocks and Hard Places:
Emigration Through the Lens of Knud Knudsen

Exhibit Schedule

Living History Farms, Urbandale, Iowa, August-October 2023
Swedish American Museum, Chicago, Illinois, September-November 2024

For information about scheduling the exhibit at your venue, contact Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson at or 563-382-9681 ext. 214.

Why do people leave their homes in search of a better life? Look for answers to that question in this exciting exhibition that explores emigration through first person accounts, cultural history, and 30 of Knud Knudsen’s large-format black and white photographs of life on the southern branch of Norway’s Hardanger Fjord.

Considered one of Norway’s most important photographers, Knudsen (1832-1915) was born in Odda, Hardanger. He established one of the first photography businesses in the city of Bergen in 1864. He would often return to his hometown of Tokheim to capture scenes of everyday life on farms and the fjord. Despite the idyllic landscape, Knudsen’s work vividly shows why the ever-present threat of rockslides and avalanches, lack of arable land, lack of economic opportunity, and brutal nature of life on the fjord led to some of the highest rates of emigration per capita in Norway.

This exhibit features 30 framed large-format photographs. In addition to Knudsen’s photographs, exhibit panels explore and contextualize the political, economic, and family pressures that led to above-average emigration from the region. These immigrant stories from the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries give us a more nuanced understanding of our immigrant neighbors today and the pressures that lead them to leave their homelands.

Venues will also be given a list of programming ideas ranging from apple grafting workshops, to photography classes, to immigration story nights, to hands-on activities designed for youth and families.

Exhibit Materials
30 framed black and white photographs between 23” x 29” and 30” x 30”
30 photo labels on dibond
8 12” x 36” exhibit panels on dibond
7 immigration law and immigration story panels on dibond
1 fabric title panel
6 42” x 13” x 35” rolling ABS plastic crates

Space Required
Minimum 180 linear feet of wall space for the full exhibit.

No rental fee for the exhibit. Prorated $2500 shipping expenses for all venues.

Rental Timeline
Minimum 3 month rental. Longer rental periods negotiable.

This traveling exhibit is supported by Lars and Martha Alsaker on behalf of Dan Alsaker and his sister Pam (Alsaker) Hemingway, Alsaker Corporation, and the Hanson Family Foundation.