The rock art of Alta    

The exhibition focuses especially on the part of the rock art that is not accessible to visitors, but one will also find some well known motifs from the accessible panels in Hjemmeluft. The exhibition is based on the documentation work that the museum has conducted over the last few years, and it displays several big and spectacular panels that are not accessible to visitors, such as Kåfjord, Storsteinen, Amtmannsnes 2b, and Bergheim 1 and Ole Pedersen 1a in Hjemmeluft. 

Three real rock art boulders are also displayed, one from the World Heritage area in Hjemmeluft, and two from Isnestoften, ca 45 km from Hjemmeluft. The latter has not been included on the World Heritage List.  

The rock carvings in Kåfjord    
Kåfjord is one of the largest rock art panels in Alta, depicting ca. 1500 carvings. The carvings are very detailed and varied containing scenes that are clearly connected. The rock carvings were probably part of myths and stories. Among other figures there are a lot of bears, dens and bear tracks in Kåfjord. Most likely the bear had a special significance in belief and rituals. There are also other characteristic scenes and carvings in Kåfjord. The panel gives an exceptional picture of a complex and rich conception of the world.

The Kåfjord panel is extremely cracked and parts of the surface disintegrated. Some of the carvings are about to disappear altogether. To preserve this exceptional panel for the future it is permanently covered. The panel is documented by use of different methods. Kåfjord is the first area in Alta that has been video scanned. The scan was carried out as part of the RANE-project (Rock Art in Northern Europe).
From Rock Art to Christianity    

The rock carvings in Alta indicate that Alta was a religious meeting-place in the Stone Age. Various types of bear hunting scenes are rather common among the oldest rock carvings, telling us that the bear may have been viewed in a similar way 6-700 years ago as in the pre-Christian Sámi religion.

The gods of the pre-Christian Sámi religion are presented as they are depicted on the magic drum, “Runebommen”. The exhibition also shows how, in Sámi religion, nature was regarded as possessing a soul and being alive.

Christianity was introduced in the Middle Ages, but did not make much impact except on the outermost coast until the 1500’s. Then the Norwegian pioneer settlement expanded from the coastal area to the inner fjords, e.g. the Alta fjord. The first church in Alta was built in 1694. Medieval art from the coastal churches and pictures from the 18th century Sámi Missionary Society are shown.


Treasure and Market    

There has been a market place in Alta probably as far back as the 15th century. The market became official in 1836. It was held twice a year, in December and March, lasting 3 days at a time. It was one of the major markets for trading of Sámi reindeer products. The reconstructed market scene shows the December marked in 1906.

The treasure hoards in the showcase and the maps on the wall show features of different types of trading between Alta and other parts of northern Europe.


Northern Lights

Alta was a centre for northern lights research in the 1800’s and beginning of the 1900’s. The first permanent northern lights observatory in the world was built on the mountain peak Haldde in Kåfjord, Alta, in 1899. The observatory was operated until 1926, when the institution was moved to Tromsø, where it is now part of the University of Tromsø. 

"Jumping after Wirkola"

Bjørn Wirkola (born in Alta in 1943) is one of the world’s greatest ski jumpers of all time and he was nominated as “Finnmark’s Athlete of the Century” in the year 2000.  He was double World Ski Jumping Champion in 1966 and is the only ski jumper to have won the German-Austrian ski jumping championships for 3 successive years, in 1967-1969. 

One of the most common expressions in the Norwegian language, “Jumping after Wirkola”, means that it is difficult to follow an extremely gifted predecessor. The prize collection on display was a gift presented to the Alta Museum by Wirkola in 2003. 


Films and slide shows    

1. The nature of Finnmark
The changing seasons in the land of the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Photos/production: Lars H. Krempig and Per Arne Askeland.
Music: Johan Sara jr.
Duration: 16 min.

2. Seiland National Park

Seiland is a distinctive, beautiful island in west Finnmark, with small and large fjords lined bysteep mountains that plunge into the sea. Its two ice caps are the northernmost ones in Scandinavia, and Melkelva, the river flowing from one of these, Seilandsjøkelen, links the ice cap with the fjord. To be so far north, partsof the national park are astonishingly green and lush. The precipitous coastal cliffs offer nesting sites for many birds of prey.

Photo/production: Per Arne Askeland.
Music: Erik Brinkman.
Duration: 18 min.


Brochure, Seiland National Park (Click on the photo)