Museum Nord 20 years

In 2024, Museum Nord celebrates running museums in Ofoten, Lofoten and Vesterålen for 20 years!

The museum’s heart beats for the stories of northern Nordland! We want as many people as possible to become familiar with the big lines and the small details, events and stories that have helped create our identity and way of being.

What is Museum Nord?

Museum Nord is a foundation that operates many museums. There is strength in being multiple.

21 museums – 1000 stories in northern Nordland.

Nordland has three regional consolidated museums, where Museum Nord is responsible for northern parts of Nordland. The Helgeland region is taken care of by Helgeland Museum, Salten by Nordlandsmuseet.

Museum Nord is responsible for the operation and development of almost all the museums in Ofoten, Lofoten and Vesterålen. Among our museums you will find, among others, Lofotr Viking Museum, Narvik Museum, Hurtigruten Museum, Lofotmuseet, Melbo Hovedgård, Øksnes Museum and many more. In addition, there are some museums that are not part of the consolidated museums.

Who are we?

Approximately 66 dedicated and skilled co-workers are employed in Museum Nord.

We work across the organisation, with different tasks. In addition, more than a hundred employees are employed so that we can manage to operate the museums throughout the seasons. Some museums are open all year round, others only in summer.

The Museum Nord Foundation consists of the Council with representatives from the various municipalities in which we run a museum. The Council meets once a year and presents the accounts, among other things. The board is the foundation’s supreme body that adopts plans, looks after the finances and sets the course for the work.

What are we working on and how?

Our region’s history is almost inexhaustible and very engaging. Museum Nord links our dissemination and research to the main themes:

Redesign, art and crafts.
Life with the nature – between sea and land.
People together – relations and connections.
Social change and transitions.

We develop our offers through various initiatives, including local, regional and international projects. Among the largest initiatives in recent years we have been the establishment of the new Hurtigruten Museum (a fantastic collaboration between Hadsel Municipality, the Norwegian Hurtigruten Museum Foundation and Museum Nord), GAIA Vesterålen (an unparalleled social and environmental project) and SKREI (the story of the Lofoten fishery and its significance for Norway).

The Museum Nord Foundation is also a centre of expertise for museum activities in its area, and is an active partner in national and international museum networks.

We are constantly working to renew our offers to both locals and an ever-growing international audience. Tourism is central to the development of our region, and our region occupies a unique position here.

Go back 20 years

Before the Museum Nord Foundation was established, the various museums Ofoten, Ofoten and Vesterålen ran themselves. They dealt directly with the municipality, county and state.

The government, represented by the Ministry of Culture and Equality, wanted a museum reform about 20 years ago. The state’s wish was to get more museums for the money, strengthen the professional museum communities and make museums better able to become an active participant in society. A consolidated museum is a group of museums that are run through common organization and finances.

Museum Nord was founded on 13 December 2002. The meeting took place in Lødingen. The first year of operation started on 1 January 2004. The following museums were then included in the Museum Nord Foundation:

Vesterålsmuseet which is now called Melbo Hovedgård.
Norsk Fiskeindustrimuseum, which now is called Neptun Sildoljefabrikk.
Bø Museum.
Øksnes Museum.
Sortland Museum, including Jennestad handelssted.
Ofoten museum, which now is called Narvik Museum.
Kjøpsvik and Korsnes Museum.
Norsk Fiskeværsmuseum, including Sørvågen Radio – a telemuseum.
Ballangen Museum.

From the founding documents we can read:

“The Foundation aims to develop a strong and versatile academic unit that, based on an overall plan, will collect, document, research and disseminate cultural history in Ofoten, Vesterålen and Lofoten. The Foundation is committed to working in accordance with ICOM’s Code of Museum Ethics.”

Eventually, more museums joined.

Lofoten War Museum from 2010.
In 2011 Lofotr Vikingmuseum joined.
As well as Skaftnes gård and Fygle Museum.

In 2014 there was a new round where three arenas were added:

The Hurtigruten Museum, which underwent major renewal and opened in a new building in 2021.
Lofotakvariet joined in 2014.
As well as Galleri Espolin.

Museum Nord today

In 2024, the Museum Nord Foundation is a young and vital organization. With 20 years of experience, we have learned to navigate landscapes with audiences, key public players, employees, projects and networks. Museum Nord is a dynamic, development-willing organisation with a wide range of competence among its employees.

We have 250,000 visitors from far and near and thus a great task and opportunity in communicating about our way of life, the region’s cultural monuments and traditions. Having knowledge of the past makes it easier for both ourselves and others to understand the present and look to the future.

The most important developments over 20 years

The consolidation of museums has not always been easy. We have slowly but surely grown in the number of museums, and the museums are also different both in theme and way of working. Nevertheless, we have found common ground in much of the work:

Joint management: which makes it easier to make selection of tasks for the whole region ? Not just for one museum at a time.

Joint economy: From each museum receiving its own payment for the social mission, the payment now goes to Museum Nord. Museum Nord distributes resources further in the system. We have created and developed positions that will work for the community ? and perform tasks that the individual museum itself had barely been able to accomplish under the previous model.

Stronger, joint professional development: We are more easily seen and heard, and we have a better opportunity to raise competence in museums together. We simply get more opportunities to be good at what we do. It benefits ourselves, the social mission and the audience.

Joint organisation: The museums have employees whose main task is “their museum”. Nevertheless, all employees contribute across the organisation, to the benefit of both the public and other employees. Quite simply, we share expertise and help each other with idea creation and implementation of measures.

New opportunities: The way we work together, criss-crossing and that we are allocated resources that the individual museum could not manage itself. We have joint management that enables both employees and the organization to work on new opportunities.

The best thing for the public is precisely that we are able to staff many museums, implement various measures, both traditional and new. That we can give our employees new impulses and skills. All this results in more dissemination, more experiences, more opportunities for you to get to know the region better.

Celebrate with us!

We invite everyone to celebrate with us in 2024. Therefore, we have put together a cultural program with many events spread throughout the year. Take a look here and find an event near you.

Museum Nord 20 Year Logo