Shaped by Time is a contemporary art exhibition where twenty-eight artists and authors have been invited to research and respond to the National Museum of cultural history’s prehistoric collection from the end of the Ice Age to the Viking Age. In dialogue with the curators and museum historians, each artist has made a new site-sensitive work in the permanent prehistoric exhibition.
New layers of experience and meaning
The exhibition takes as its starting point the specific museological context of the Danish National Museum and its 2008 re-staging of the prehistoric collection, intended to make the experience of history more digestible and exciting to audiences. Shaped by Time inserts another layer of experience and meaning, engaging with the museum’s methodology of display, its theatrical use of sound and subdued lighting.

How cultural histories are narrated 
Commissioned texts, photographs, paintings, sculptures, video and sound works are embedded in the collection, responding to the architecture as well as themes highlighted in the permanent exhibition such as aesthetics, cultural exchange, status symbols, faith, and magic. The exhibition questions how cultural histories are narrated, what objects are selected to represent or stand in for thousands of years of consolidated history and human production and what these artifacts relay about how we see ourselves, and what we value. How much has human expression evolved? How can contemporary art — including abstract non-research based practices — think through history and through the museum that preserve and presents it?
In Shaped by Time objects of past and present and the ideas that inform their making mirror each other, posing questions regarding how we are able to read a distant past through the objects it has produced and what we may learn from them. The exhibition sets into play artistic and anthropological methodologies, as they confluently construct history and produce meaning in different ways.