The Museum Centre of Hordaland (former Museum Centre in Salhus) consists of a unique professional environment with an extensive competence within the breadth of the museum field. The Museum Centre is capable of taking the challenges of being an important cultural and social institution that really matters for the society way beyond its own limited institutions. The activities of the museum centre include central fields of the cultural and social history of Norway and especially that of the western part of the country. The museum is showing a positive development which will make it an important and major force in the work of safeguarding our own cultural heritage. This is at least what the Cultural Office of the County of Hordaland is pointing out as the most important advantages of the Museum Centre of Hordaland in their recommendation for the national award "Museum of the Year 2007". As the director of the Museum Centre I can only say I really agree in the evaluation of the institution. I will also add that the centre consists of institutions focusing on both social and cultural history as well as the preservation of nature and agricultural landscapes. A red tread throughout the activity of all the institutions is the focus on safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage through the preserving of traditional craft skills, folk and oral culture and so on.
The museum centre is a quit new institution which has been consolidated during the recent years in accordance with the museum reform and policy of the national government which has resulted in a massive consolidation of the museum trade in Norway. The consolidation of the Museum Centre in Hordaland has been going on in several phases which started in 2004 and for the time being ended in 2007. The centre has its central administration in an old knitting factory in Salhus, which was established in 1859, just north of Bergen. The whole factory included the buildings for the workers have been preserved as a national industrial heritage site. In the old factory buildings we find the central administration of MiH, Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum, the Conservation Department, the Cultural Heritage Service for North Hordaland and the joint curator for Bergen (a service for the voluntary organisations for industrial and cultural heritage). The other institutions which is part of the Museum Centre is Havraring;tunet and Osteroslash;y Museum situated at Osteroslash;y, an island north of Bergen, and the last institution is Lyngheisenteret (the Heather Centre) at Lygra also north of Bergen. These last three institutions were consolidated with the Museum Centre in 2007. Still I think that the consolidation of the Museum Centre in Hordaland has not been fulfilled and it may be extended with several new institutions in the years to come. Below I will give a little bit more information about some of the institutions in the Museum Centre of Hordaland.
The Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum is located in buildings which formerly housed the Salhus Knitwear Factory (1859-1989). The Salhus Knitting Mill was the first fully mechanized knitwear factory in Norway and it was established in 1859 by two German immigrants, Philip Clausen and Johan Ramm. The factory was established during the first wave of industrialization in Norway. Prior to the opening of the factory, there were only a few houses in Salhus. The village grew rapidly as the factory increased its production. Salhus grew to an industrial centre and village. The factory had its peak in the 1950s with 350 employees - many of whom were women. During this period there were over 2000 inhabitants in Salhus and three textile factories, several shops, a bakery, a shoemaker, a school, a doctor, a post office and a bank. The place had become a large village.
"Tricotage" means knitted textiles. Salhus Tricotagefabrik produced underwear, stockings, socks and sweaters in wool and cotton. The trademark for the products was a crown (Krone), and Kronemacco is still well known. The factory was in operation for 130 years, until it was closed down in 1989. Next year the factory has its 150 years anniversary. Products from Salhus Tricotagefabrik were not only sold to Norwegian blue-collar workers, fishermen and farmers, but the trademark Kronemacco was also well known outside the country and was especially popular in Sweden, Japan and the United States of America. Today the industry is gone. Salhus is protected as a cultural preservation area. The entire village is practically an open-air museum with buildings from all stages of industrialism, from around 1860 to the 1950s. Today the Norwegian Knitting Museum is part of the Union of Norwegian Industrial Museums and is one of 10 industrial heritage sites which enjoy the highest national priority in Norway. The museum has about 8000 visitors annually, including school classes. The Norwegian Knitting museum is open all year.
The Conservation Department is the youngest section at the Museum Centre of Hordaland. It was first established as a textile conservation studio for the museums in Hordaland County, and was moved to new, modern studios in six protected and refurbished buildings in Salhus in 2007. The Conservation Department now consists of a textile conservation studio and a studio for conservation of materials such as wood, stone, glass, ceramics and metals. We also have storage facilities for historic objects belonging to museums in Hordaland. The Department offers free services to all the museums in Hordaland. This includes both active and preventive conservation as well as expert advice and training sessions concerning storage, pest management and preservation of cultural heritage. Even if we offer conservation services on all kinds of materials, we have chosen to specialize in textile conservation. This is both due to the historic fact that the Conservation Department first was established as a textile conservation studio back in 1978, but also because we now are located in an old textile mill. Our staff has long experience with various textile materials such as wool, silk and mixed materials, and also a wide range of different kinds of objects: Norwegian national costumes, silk banners and large tapestries. Besides the regional museums we have a wide range of customers, such as The Royal Court, the Directorate of Cultural Heritage in Norway (Riksantikvaren), Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and Stavanger Cathedral.
One of our objectives is to be acknowledged as a national centre for textile conservation in the years to come.
Havraring;tunet is an old farm with a history that goes back to the Bronze Age, 3500 years ago. It is located on the northern slopes of Soslash;rfjorden on the island of Osteroslash;y, and consists of 8 farms. Havraring; was never subjected to the nation-wide reapportionments of farmlands that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus the houses of 8 small farms remain situated in a closed cluster or "tun". It is surrounded by numerous small fields with different owners scattered around the farm houses in a rundle pattern. All the buildings in the "tun" are located in the centre of the area. The 30 buildings are situated along three small lanes, paved with huge flat stones. The farmhouses are located towards the centre, while the barns, cow - and sheep-sheds are located at the outskirt of the "tun". There are also 5 small water mills and various summer barns and cowsheds in the area.
The old cultural landscape of Havraring; represents important facets of cultural history, biological diversity and agricultural tradition. Today the farm is protected by the law of Cultural Heritage. Six people are working full time here. The main issue for the future is how to maintain the knowledge from the past, from the spade and the dung-fork past. And carry on being farmers in the year of 2008. The knowledge is no longer passed from generation to generation but from one employee to another. There still is a link to the old ways of living at Havraring; through the last two active farmers. But this link is fragile, since both Johannes and Ingrid have past the age of 80. The big challenge therefore is to make sure that the knowledge - both theoretical and practical - survives and is passed on to generations to come as part of the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.
This was a brief presentation of the Museum Centre of Hordaland. There are a lot of challenges to overcome in the following years if we are going to reach our goals and become an institution within the museum trade which should be accepted as both a national and an international competence centre within our professional fields. In my opinion one of the most important issues to reach this goal is to systematically build the competence of each employee to a higher level. I also feel that we are mostly facing the same problems and challenges in our work to safeguard the cultural heritage and preserve traditional knowledge and skills. In that connection I find international cooperation between museums a very efficient way to reach mutual goals and learn from each others experience. I will use the opportunity to invite other museums of the year to share their excellence and experience in the years to come.
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