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Competition: Museum of Forest Finn Culture, Norway

Norway’s Museum of Forest Finn Culture has launched an open international contest for its new headquarters in rural Svullrya (Deadline: 10 November)

The competition seeks proposals for a centre dedicated to the history and culture of the so-called Forest Finns – Finnish migrants who relocated to Sweden and Norway during the late 16th and early-to-mid-17th centuries.

The project will create a complex overlooking the Rotna River and highway 201, close to the existing museum which hosts a large collection of documents and objects relating to the national minority group who played a major role in transforming remote forests into farmlands.

Contest site

Contest site

According to the brief: ‘The museum has until now had offices and parts of the collections in old, small and temporary premises. The museum is now in the process of planning the new building. This is design contest focuses on how the building shall be designed and on how rooms and functions can be organised.

‘The contracting authority aims at designing a museum building that will be very attractive to those considering themselves Forest Finns along with the general population, foreign tourists, researchers and organisations working with Forest Finn culture in Norway.’

Svullrya is a small village around 110km north-east of Oslo. The settlement, surrounded by woodland, is a major centre of Forest Finn culture and features several historic dwellings.

The Forest Finns migrated to Norway and were involved in the traditional ‘slash-and-burn’ technique of agriculture (pictured) where forest was quickly transformed into fertile growing land. Today most Forest Finns have been assimilated into Norwegian culture with the last Finnish speakers passing away in the late 1960s.

Painting by Eero Järnefelt showing forest burning

Painting by Eero Järnefelt showing forest burning

Painting by Eero Järnefelt showing forest burning

The museum occupies a number of old buildings within the village and is open to the public during the summer. It hosts around 350,000 items relating to the Forest Finn and also provides an exhibition space and meeting place for researchers.

Judges include museum director Dag Raaberg, museum chair Jan Larsson, professional adviser Birger Nesholen and local mayor Wenche Huser Sund. A 1 million NOK prize fund will be shared between the winners. Participation may be in Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 3pm local time on 10 November

Contact details

Geirmund Barsnes
Stiftelsen Norsk Skogfinsk Museum
990 366 128
Furubergsvegen 42
Grue Finnskog


View the contract notice for more information


Q&A with Dag Raaberg

The director of Norway’s Museum of Forest Finn Culture discusses his ambitions for the competition

Dag Raaberg

Dag Raaberg

Dag Raaberg

Why are your holding a competition for a new home for the Norwegian Forest Finn Museum?

The Museum of Forest Finn Culture does not yet have a museum building. We are renting an old school as our administration building and where we have our library, offices and one small room for exhibitions. We need this new building to convey our history to the audience. A contest is the right way to do it, and it was right for us to have an open EU contest. We wanted to choose from many suggestions. We wanted, for example, to have some participants from Finland. Also, without a contest we would not have money from the culture department.

What is your vision for the new venue?

Our vision is to be a driving force and rallying point for the Forest Finn culture. Forest Finns are one of five minority cultures in Norway. The architects are quite free, but the building needs to have some elements from our culture. The architectural innovation and quality will be very important, though there are some economical limits. Sustainable issues are definitely important parts of the brief.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We want every possible architect to apply; the opportunity is open to all kind of firms, but there must be a qualified architect behind every application. Museum architect competitions are quite interesting to architects and the winning entries will get a lot of attention in Norway as well as in other countries. The judging committee has 1 million NOK to give in prize money.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We do not have plans for other design contests in the immediate future; this one is quite big for us and costs us a lot too. We are a small museum even if our collections are big. We have for instance 163 buildings to take care of with more than 34,000 items in our collection, 250,000 photos, very many glass negatives, 850 hours of video, 250 private archives, 55,000 books and only five staff.

Are there any other similar museum projects you have been impressed by?

Ahead of this competition, we have looked at several other buildings and museums. We were particularly inspired by Nyréns Arkitektkontor’s Vitlycke Museum in Tanum, on Sweden’s west coast, which covers coast-culture from the bronze age; and the Coastal Heritage Museum in Trøndelag, Norway, by Eggen Arkitekter. Also Glomdalsmuseet (architect Simen Øien 1939) in Hedmark, Norway, not far from us has given us very much valuable information. 

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