The Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum on a study trip to Bretagne

28 April 2023

On 16 April, the Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum went on a week-long study trip to Bretagne in France. This is an area with a high density of lighthouses. The aim of the trip was to learn more about the French cultural heritage management of the lighthouses and how the lighthouse history is conveyed there.

The lighthouses are usually owned by the state, which is responsible for the lighthouse lighting itself. This is also the case in Norway. It is usually voluntary organisations that take care of the maintenance, use and dissemination of the lighthouses. Travelling companions met many interested and knowledgeable lighthouse enthusiasts, and such international networking is also part of the Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum’s work. In France, they do not have a similar national agency museum for lighthouses as the Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum, and we felt that they also wanted to learn more about us.

Fresnel lenses 200 years

Another important reason why the trip was added here is that this year it is 200 years since the “modern” lighthouse lens was invented in France.  Frenchman Auguste Fresnel designed a lighthouse lens that was considerably lighter and more usable than previous lens solutions, and in addition it worked even better. Lenses that are constructed according to the same principle are often called fresnel lenses. The gang also visited the Creach Lighthouse Museum where they display a fantastic collection of lighthouse lenses, including the very first lens for Fresnel. The lighthouse lens on display at the Hurtigruten Museum is also a fresnel lens.

flere mennesker foran et fyr
Phare de Saint Mathieu 4:
The Academic Council of the Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum in front of the lighthouse St. Mathieu, which was built in 1835. Photo: Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum

The Norwegian Coastal Administration Museum will mark the 200th anniversary of the fresnel lenses with a self-produced art exhibition in September.

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