Article June 1998.


Norges Kartmuseum.

Norway’s New Mapping Museum.

At a ceremony held on 14th January, King Harald V of Norway formally opened the new Mapping Museum (Norges Kartmuseum) which has been set up in one of the main buildings of Statens Kartverk (SK), the Norwegian national mapping organisation, located just outside Hønefoss, some 40km north west of Oslo. Undoubtedly the Museum will become a mecca for everyone concerned with surveying and mapping in Norway and for those visiting Statens Karverk headquarters.


Forming the core of the Museum is a wonderful and extensive collection of instruments. The oldest surveying instruments on show include geographical circles and transits dating from the late 18th Century, while there is a stunning range of 19th Century theodolites mainly from the German instrument makers, Ertel and Bamberg. These are supplemented by several old plane tables equipped with early types of telescopic alidades, a number of precision levels and some aneroid barometers and barographs used for heighting.



The Early 20th Century

The early 20th Century is also represented by some fascinating geodetic items, including a comparator base, an example of the base line measuring equipment devised by the Swedish geodesist Jäderin and some high precision instruments for positional astronomy from Bamberg and Askania. And finally there are examples of much later but now obsolete instruments, including an early Tellurometer microwave EDM instrument used for trilateration work and Norgaard and Worden gravimeters used for geophysical work.



Photogrammetrists can see a similarly comprehensive collection of stereo instruments covering the early development of their science, starting with examples of the Zeiss Stereocomparator (from 1913) and Stereoautograph (from 1920) used for terrestrial photogrammetric work, and a Zeiss Stereoplanigraph C4 (from 1936) which was the first instrument used for aerial photogrammetry in Norway. Also on view is the Norwegian built Dahl Autograph dating from the late 1930s and examples of the Wild A5 and A6 instruments purchased after the end of the Second World War (Fig. 3). When so many older instruments are simply being scrapped elsewhere, it is really heartening to see that these examples are being saved and cared for in this way.


Photographic Exhibits

Quite apart from the instruments themselves, what will also be fascinating to many visitors are the photographic exhibits showing the life and work of the field surveyors and topographers of NGO in the rough and mountainous Norwegian terrain. Besides the photographs of the surveyors undertaking measurements in the field, those showing the transport used by the surveyors - including pack horses, horse-drawn carts and early motor vehicles - and their camping and cooking gear are especially interesting. There is even an old surveying tent set up for visitors to admire! Another interesting exhibit covers the surveys carried out to define the country's national boundaries with Sweden, Finland and Russia. There is also a fine collection of photographs relating to the charting of the complex Norwegian coast, including pictures of the rowing boats, steam pinnaces, motor launches and small ships used by the early hydrographic surveyors. Furthermore, alongside the photographs, there are actual examples of the weighted lead lines, sextants and station pointers that pre-date the electronic and acoustic environment that is familiar to present day sea surveyors.


Map Production

Yet another major part of the Museum's collection covers map production in Norway. There are quite a number of beautiful old maps and sea charts on show. These are backed up by examples of the old cartographic, reprographic and printing technologies used for map production - with lithographic stones and engraved copper plates being only a few of many items. Cartometry is represented by some very old planimeters used for the measurement of areas.


First Rate Exhibition

If anyone in the surveying and mapping community is visiting Norway, they should put a visit to the SK Museum high on their list of places to visit. A great deal of careful thought and much effort has gone into its creation and the result is an absolutely first rate exhibition - well housed and very well laid out. Some other national mapping organisations have set up small museums, but the new SK Museum is certainly the largest and finest that the present writer has come across. However the Museum is only open to visitors by prior arrangement. Thus one can't simply walk in from the road and gain entry to the Museum without notice, since it is located in the basement of one of SK's main production buildings and there is a need for some security to be in operation, however mild. Obviously too someone from the staff needs to be present since, without supervision, it would be easy for some of the smaller items to go missing - hence the need to supervise visitors in a light but unobtrusive fashion.

Those wishing to visit the Museum should write to Statens Kartverk, Kartverksveien 21, N-3500 Hønefoss, Norway (Tel.:- 00-47-32-11-81-00).

Professor Gordon Petrie, Department of Geography & Topographic Science,University of Glasgow,Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland, U.K.