Illustrations by LPO architects
A centre for experiences AND knowledge about the Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish
The Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish. SKREI is supposed to be about that. SKREI will be a place where visitors can learn, sense, experience and understand the importance of the Lofoten fishery and cod and the enormous values this has created and creates for Norway. SKREI will extend beyond the traditional framework of a museum. SKREI will open in 2026.
SKREI will consist of 4 main parts: the newly built “Otolitten”, the Lofoten Museum, Gallery Espolin and the Lofoten Aquarium. All the parts must be tied together so that it is visually beautiful, practically accessible and so that the story is conveyed in the best possible way. One place should complement the other. SKREI is realised in Storvågan, Kabelvåg – in the heart of Lofoten, where the commercial trade in cod began.
Hot romance in the sea creates livelihoods on land
The waters around Lofoten are some of the most nutritious in the world. This has created the basis for a natural phenomenon of dimensions. Arctic cod grow up in the Barents Sea and from here embark on the long migration to Lofoten to spawn. The Lofoten fishery has attracted thousands of fishermen and provided a livelihood for many. The Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish have created enormous values, culturally and economically.
This long relationship between man and Norway’s most important fish contains many important, exciting and surprising stories. SKREI will highlight the stories about fish, people, culture, sustainability, past and future.
The world’s largest seasonal cod fishery
The Lofoten fishery has left deep traces in Norwegian culture for many centuries. This large winter fishing for cod has been of great importance to Norway. People from all over the country have flocked to Lofoten to participate in the world’s largest seasonal fishery for cod. For hundreds of years, stockfish was the country’s most important export commodity. Even today, the Lofoten fishery is a major industry.
Cod spawn from the Møre coast to Finnmark, and fishing has traditionally taken place in the same areas. However, most fishermen have fished from Lofoten. Here, too, most of the fish have come ashore. The Lofoten fishery is a widely known fishery.
Norway’s and especially Lofoten’s coastal areas offer unique economic conditions. That’s why the cod comes here. Cod is the world’s largest cod stock and provides the basis for the world’s largest cod fishery.
Norway’s most important export for several hundred years
The Lofoten fishery is a phenomenon of national importance, culturally and economically. The cod that is caught is consumed as fresh fish, salted fish and stockfish. Stockfish has represented the majority of Norwegian export value in a period of our history of more than 500 years.
The Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish, skrei, have provided a basis for settlement, created great values culturally and economically. The Lofoten fishery has shaped way of life, material and intangible culture. The Lofoten fishery is still very important. Not least, it is a vibrant industry.
The history of the Lofoten fishery NEEDS more space
Communicating what fishing for cod has meant, means and will mean for Norway is a major and important task, both for Norway and for Lofoten. SKREI will be a centre for experiences and knowledge about the Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish.
To realize this task, Museum Nord and Vågan municipality have taken the initiative to establish a national centre for the Lofoten fishery and the importance of cod for Norway in the past, present and future.
The plan includes a high-quality knowledge and experience centre. Relevant topics within both natural science and art and cultural history in a broad sense must be disseminated.
The centre will highlight the connection between humans and a fantastic renewable resource. It will show us what deep traces this fishing has left in our material culture and way of life, but at the same time look ahead and stimulate reflection on the future of the cod fishery and the fisheries industry in general. Dissemination must be closely linked to the research front in the relevant subject areas.
Norway’s history is not complete
The Lofoten fishery has left such deep traces in Norwegian history – so deep that the story of Norway cannot be told without including the cod fishery and the significance of stockfish. SKREI will help to make the whole story of Norway more familiar, more complete. The history of the Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish will be given more prominence.
The commercial trade in stockfish began in Lofoten, in the old Vágar. Over a period of 500 years in Norwegian history, stockfish represented the bulk of Norway’s export revenues. Right here, on the site of old Vágar, we establish SKREI. We will highlight the national history of the cod fishery and show how it has shaped culture and ways of life.
SKREI goes beyond the framework of a traditional museum. SKREI is about the relationship between humans and a fantastic, renewable resource. SKREI will tell about both the history and future of the fish, the people and the place.
How do we create skrei?
First, we build and open the otolith
We have been working on our plans for SKREI for the past 15 years. We have the support of local, regional and national authorities. In the autumn of 2021, we received the final go-ahead from the government to start building SKREI.
SKREI is realised in Storvågan, Kabelvåg – in the heart of Lofoten, where the commercial trade in cod began. SKREI will include several attractions: the Lofoten Aquarium, the Lofoten Museum and Gallery Espolin – in addition to the new, large building we will now build; The otolith.
LPO architects, with Expology AB and Asplan Viak on the team, won the architectural competition. In the autumn of 2023, the site will be prepared for the new building “Otolitten”. Construction will begin in 2024. In 2026, we will open SKREI.
In parallel with this, Museum Nord works closely with Expology AB to create the content for the main exhibition in Otolite. Among other things, Asplan Viak works to design and adapt the site and outdoor areas for Otolitten.
The otolith will open in 2026. Then we continue our work to make SKREI a larger whole. The Lofoten Museum, the Lofoten Aquarium and Gallery Espolin will be linked even more clearly to SKREI, through improvements to facilities and development of dissemination services. The outdoor areas will be further upgraded.
SKREI will be a centre for experiences and knowledge about Norway’s most important fish.
The otolith offers both independently experiences – but more importantly, it will be in interaction for the existing facilities operated by Museum Nord: the Lofoten Aquarium, Gallery Espolin and the Lofoten Museum. These will be further developed in interaction with the cultural landscape that surrounds them. The sum of the Otolith, Lofoten Museum, Gallery Espolin and the Lofoten Aquarium will provide visitors with knowledge and experiences from different perspectives. The sum of these will be SKREI.
The otolith will be 5000 sqm. Here we create a large basic exhibition with emphasis on the fish and people in the past and present and projection of possible future scenarios. In the grand story of the Lofoten fishery, it is also natural to include the sea, ecology, biology, art and culture.
The otolith will also provide spaces for changing exhibitions and events, contain Museum Nord’s relevant collections as part of the centre’s knowledge base, offices and public offerings such as a café.
SKREI will become an attraction
We expect 100,000 – 120,000 visitors a year to SKREI. SKREI gains attraction power of an international nature. In addition to the values created on site, cod will also create major economic ripple effects. As the Lofoten fishery and Norway’s most important fish, SKREI will also create values of various kinds.
SKREI will be open all year round. There will be exhibitions, activities and experiences adapted to the season and visitor numbers. SKREI will be a relevant arena for the local population to seek out knowledge about the Lofoten fishery. Visitors will gain insight into cultural history and, through experiences and knowledge, gain a better basis for understanding what Lofoten is, what the Lofoten fishery was and is and how this is displayed in our culture and industry also today.
An interdisciplinary project
When telling the story of Norway, cod and the stockfish trade are central. SKREI takes responsibility for disseminating and researching this important piece of history. We are building a museum of national relevance, which is an important thematic addition to the breadth of Norwegian museums.
- SKREI is the only interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral organisation that works to convey the story of the cod.
- SKREI will be an important Northern Norwegian voice in a current dialogue.
- The SKREI centre is being built on site? at the hotbed of the commercial Lofoten fishery. Just below ground are unique archaeological finds that are important for the history that is disseminated.
- The concept behind SKREI is holistic and site-dependent.
- It is specifically designed to integrate existing offerings with a new center. SKREI will make each part even more interesting and valuable.
We have worked with content creation for SKREI for a long time. An important initiative is the SKREI Research Center, which builds networks of researchers and industry actors, disseminates research from relevant disciplines and delivers content to the main exhibition.
Through its many employees, Museum Nord has great access to knowledge to be disseminated and professionals who can disseminate. Over time, various projects have worked towards a common goal: create knowledge and dissemination services to be used in SKREI.
Investment budget: NOK 583 million
The development of SKREI is divided into 2 stages.
Stage 1 comprises the new building “Otolitten” and the nearest outdoor areas, totalling NOK 385 million
Stage 2 comprises further development of the existing Lofoten Museum, Lofoten Aquarium and Gallery Espolin, further development of outdoor areas and infrastructure, totalling NOK 198 million.
The financing plan includes grants for investment, supply of properties, borrowing as well as contributions from private partners.
SKREI becomes …
- A destination with outstanding exhibitions and activities? a varied and alluring cultural offering.
- A place to be proud of. Locals, as well as the region – indeed the nation – should be proud that the history of cod and the Lofoten fishery has been given a visible and distinct place.
- A centre with high academic excellence, where research and knowledge development of both national and regional relevance take place.
- An international, national and regional networker, which conducts extensive cooperation, and has knowledge sharing and openness on the agenda.
- SKREI Eiendom AS was formally established on 1 July 2020. SKREI Eiendom AS will own and manage the buildings at the Lofoten Museum, the Lofoten Aquarium and Gallery Espolin, as well as the newly built Otolith.
- In 2021, Nordland County Council approved support of NOK 48.5 million (double-check date).
- In the autumn of 2021, SKREI was granted NOK 162 million. in the state budget for 2022.
- A cooperation agreement between Museum Nord and SKREI Eiendom AS was established in the autumn of 2021.
- The first steering group meeting of SKREI was held on 31 January 2022.
- Ground drilling performed (time and place)
- There are more milestones here…
SKREI Stories: A HISTORY OF CONNECTEDNESS
Visit our online exhibition about the past, the present and the future of the Atlantic Cod.
Skrei Fisheries in Lofoten
Skreifisket in Lofoten dates back to the Stone Age. In prehistoric times, fishermen also came from settlements far away from the Lofoten Sea, to participate in the rich fishing and to bring stockfish home.
Fishing and sea capture in the viking age
Dissemination text on fishing and sea hunting in the Viking Age.
History of Lofoten
Lofoten’s history is a story about fish. The population has harvested resources from the sea all year round, while many have also run small farms. But it is the seasonal fishing for skrei that has had the greatest impact on life here along the coast.
All “skrei” is cod, but not all cod is “skrei”
All skrei is cod, but not all cod is skrei. What exactly is skrei?