Traces in Stone

Permanent Exhibitions

The exhibition seeks to spread knowledge and excitement about a subject not everybody knows that well; the Rock art of Alta. Between 7000 and 2000 years ago people carved figures in stone to communicate something. But who were they? What did they try to communicate, and to whom? The rock art is filled with unanswered questions, but it also gives an insight into the stone age that is hard to come by any other way. The exhibition Traces in Stone tells about not just the figures themselves, but also about how they were made, about the landscape they were made in, and about the rock surfaces on which they were made. To understand what the rock art means, we must understand the rock arts contemporary environment.

The exhibition is designed by Kvorning Design and Communication and is the first phase in a larger renewal project the museum has initiated. It is a balanced exhibition between interaction and storytelling, so that visitors have the opportunity not only to read the stories, but also to press, twist, draw and light their way to a deeper understanding and insight about the world heritage of Alta.

It was locals from Alta who first discovered the rock art, and they immediately contacted the local newspaper as well as Tromsø Museum (today known as The Arctic University Museum of Norway) to report what they had found. This evolved to an avalanche of finds, and Tromsø Museum had their hands full documenting all the figures and panels that were found. Today we have almost 6000 figures scattered over approx. 100 panels. All thanks to the vigilant eyes of the locals. We seek to honour these individuals in the exhibition, and at the same time we strive to show how the rock art has become an integrated part of Alta’s identity and community.

In the exhibition we have 5 loose boulders with real rock art on them. Two of the boulders have never been displayed in Finnmark before. We have also displayed a loose boulder with new rock art on it, so that visitors can sense rock art with more than just their eyes. The exhibition is spiced up with pictures of rock carvings and rock paintings from all over the Alta fjord, and with its dark, almost eerie atmosphere we hope that the visitors will take their time to reflect about the world heritage, and perhaps learn something new.