Object of the month: Alta Museum – 30 years in Hjemmeluft

Monthly Artifacts

Alta Museum – 30 years in Hjemmeluft

On the 17th of June 1991, Alta Museum opened its brand-new building to the public in Hjemmeluft. It was the second museum in Finnmark county that was designed for this purpose, facilitating collection management, exhibitions, and events. Its location nearby the largest rock art area in Alta was also ideal for dissemination and heritage management.

The opening day in 1991 still maintains the record number of visitors with a total of 2395 people. Visits to the rock art in Hjemmeluft had steadily increased through the 1980s, after their inscription into the UNESCO list of World Heritage and the facilitation of the area with a boardwalk. The number of visitors reached new heights after the museum building opened. By the end of 1991, over 54 000 people had visited the museum. In the first years the museum was open from 8 am to 11 pm during peak season, and guided tours were given in multiple languages. The recently appointed director Hans Christian Søborg placed great emphasis on making the museum a welcoming place for the public:

«I arrived in Alta 1,5 years before the new museum opened and while it was under construction. I was happy to become part of an audience-minded museum where prehistoric rock art featured prominently. Alta has a unique and remarkable history all the way from prehistory to the present day. Museums have often been criticized for being dull ivory towers. As many others, I argued that museums are first and foremost for the public. Being part of creating a museum for a large, young, and growing local population as well as for international visitors was a fine challenge. The museum planners and I agreed that this emphasis made the museum even more attractive.» - Hans Christian Søborg, Museum Director 1990-2005

Written by Heidi Johansen, conservator