Oslo City Hall Celebrates the Imperfect with New Bell Installation

Instead of being silenced, a bell out of tune with the rest of the carillon at Oslo City Hall (globally recognized for hosting the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony) has become a solo artist. The 1.4-ton bell, cast in 1949, is tuned to D#, but incongruous with the instrument's other 48 bells. 

The bell was removed from the bell tower and sent to the Nauen Bell Foundry, where it rested, mute, on the foundry floor for more than a decade. Rather than having the bell retuned or recast, but wanting to give it more purpose, the foundry acquiesced to lending the bell to KORO Public Art Norway for an outdoor installation.

Video: Installation of the ‘Untuned Bell’ at Honnørbrygga pier in Oslo, Norway.

Two mammoth plinths were erected in the square between Oslo City Hall and the Oslofjord, with a steel cord connecting the two. In the middle, the old bell hangs anew. Pedestrians traversing the plaza may gently tap a foot pedal installed near the base of one of the plinths that support the suspended bell’s weight. This tap signals the bell to toll, sending deep reverberations cascading from above.

Now, the bell hangs in pride of place, un-tuned but unworried, for the world to see and enjoy. We can’t think of a more beautiful and needed allegory for being true to oneself. 

Cover image: The ‘Untuned Bell’ hangs with Oslo City Hall in the background. Courtesy: KORO Public Art Norway.