«Amazing Mother Nature at her best!»
Comment on Sea Safari Andenes at Trip advisor


  • A message from the mayor
  • Testimonials from visitors
  • A unique attraction, a unique location
  • Science and art
  • The place and the building
  • Inside and outside
  • International and local
  • Research and cooperation
  • Content and design
  • Analogue and digital
  • For children and adults
  • Learning and playing
  • Shop and café



Steering Committee:

  • Lisbeth Seppola, chairman of Andøy Reiseliv SA
  • Arne Hjalmar Hanssen, President NAROM
  • Jonni Solsvik, Mayor of Andøy Municipal Government
  • Benn Eidissen, Chairman of Whale Safari Andenes
  • Gunnar Jan Olsen, Chairman of Sea Safari Andenes
  • Hanne Strager, Marine mammal biologist, exhibition consultant
  • Brynjar Pettersen, Director of department Vesterålen, Museum Nord

Project leader:

  • Børre Berglund, Reiselivsrådgivning (BBR)

Project coordinator:

  • Camilla Ilmoni, Director of Andøy Reiseliv SA

  • Text: Hanne Strager
  • Translation: Hanne Strager
  • Drawings: Joakim Engel
  • Layout: God Strek AS
  • Print: Konsis Grafisk AS
  • Web: Moonrocket
  • Publication: 2018

  • Photo Background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no
    Banner Andøy kommune
    We want to create a place, an exhibition and a center of art,
    – the likes of which the world has never seen.

    PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS been fascinated by whales. In stone carvings from thousands of years ago, we can see depictions of whales. The sea monsters portrayed in maps from the Middle Ages are most likely based on mythical tales of whales. In the bible there is a passage about “Jonah in the whale’s belly”.

    The oldest written source that mention whales in our part of the world is by Ottar by the end of the 9th century.

    The german writer Paul Güszfeldt talks of Emperor Wilhelm II’s travels to Norway and his encounter with whales in the Andfjord in the year 1890.

    “The night became ever so beautiful; it was the most colorful of nights we experienced on the entire trip through the Arctic Seas. The sun constantly unconcealed; on the wide ocean between Andøy in the West and Senja in the East, we travelled north towards the northern tip of Andøy who like a large wedge stretches out far into the ocean. The emperor retreated as soon the sun announced the beginning of a new day while the careless part of the entourage – 12 of 13 – once again met in the dining hall to contemplate yet another day’s memories and the refreshments that came with. They didn’t stay there for long though. The “bathing guests” were interrupted in their new diet when told that there were whales in the Andfjord and everyone hurried to the deck”.

    In 1987 the world’s TV-watchers and newsreaders were all told a story of HVALØYA ANDØY. The meeting with Moby Dick – the giant sperm whale residing in the ocean outside of Andenes was widely recorded in international media.

    Last year (2017) marked the 30 year anniversary since the first whale safari was being tested in Andenes. The date was the 20th of August 1987.

    Throughout three decades we’ve learned that the big sperm whales who reside northwest of Andenes, is a stable phenomenon. We have let several hundred thousand guests from all over the world get close to the world’s largest toothed whale, and thus created enthusiasm about the whale and the beautiful nature in which it lives. As such we’ve been able to develop a world-class travel experience. This gives us a unique starting point to tell the story of whales and their meeting with humans. Now, we’ll give the world a whole new attraction where the whale is focal point.

    This will be done by establishing “The Whale” – an exhibition, where we invite everybody to learn about the whale in a completely new way. This establishment will cement Andøy in a position as the premier whale destination in Norway and Northern Europe, but more importantly; it will allow us to learn even more about whales.

    “The Whale” will strengthen Northern Norway as a travel destination, and create a positive ripple effect outwards to other businesses in the north. The attraction will offer quality and legitimacy to whale safaris, but first and foremost it will function as a separate adventure product. In addition “The Whale” is also meant to combine research, knowledge and attraction, which will prove to be valuable for educational purposes for primary schools, kindergartens and other institutions. “The Whale” will be a whale exhibition the likes of which the world has never seen before. Just you wait.

    Jonni H. Solsvik
    Mayor of Andøy
    Municipal Government
    «Fantastic trip!»
    JonandVib. Oslo
    Fabrice L
    «Amazing whalewatching experience»
    hilary7157. Billericay, United Kingdom
    Nadja D. Wetteren, Belgium
    «Best Whale Watching Trip Yet»
    randy_be. Oak Park, Illinois
    «Ausgezeichnetes Erlebnis»
    «Grandioses Erlebnis!»
    A H. Essen, Germany
    «Ein garantiertes MUSS in Andenes»
    pedaro. Buchrain, Switzerland
    «Faszinierende Tiere»
    Lars A
    «Это было незабываемо!»
    Babich1960St. Petersburg, Russia
    «Whale watching at its best»
    DellaP71. Perth, Australia
    «We were so lucky»
    monvan. Vancouver
    «Fantastic trip!»
    JonandVib. Oslo
    «Bellissima esperienza!!!»
    Cirobru68. Genova
    Sourit, France
    «Fantastisk. Må oppleves»
    Bjørn H
    «Fantastisk naturopplevelse»
    Sunnymountain, Norge
    Sonder, Sweden
    «Geweldige ervaring: potvis gezien op een paar meter afstand!»
    3511nc. Utrecht
    Intestini. Alpedrete
    «En oplevelse man ikke må snyde sig selv for»
    Bjarne F, Danmark
    «An unforgettable experience»
    Charyld L. Wiltshire, United Kingdom
    «I love the ocean. To me, being at sea gives perspective, a sense of belonging and of context. I believe American psychologist and philosopher William James grasped some of modernity’s most fundamental truths when he wrote; «We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep».
    Fra Kronprins Håkon Magnus tale i Ålesund d. 21. april 2016.

    A unique attraction, a unique location.

    “THE WHALE” is a unique attraction. The location is all about these magnificent giants of the sea, and their significance through time for the people living here. The place combines the best of nature and art, and at the same time offers experience, reflection, old wisdom and new knowledge.

    “The Whale” is not a traditional museum of natural history, nor is it a conventional art museum or nature center. It isn’t a research facility or an educational institution. Instead, it seeks to combine the best of these places, and merge it into something entirely new.

    “The Whale” is a place you can visit, and where you can enjoy an experience filled with beauty and knowledge, but it’s also a place that proactively generates events in the local community and abroad.

    Andenes is a unique location. This is the place in Europe where the continental slope to the deep ocean is nearest land. Just 10 kilometers from Andenes, the continental shelf dives to the deeps of the ocean, representing a site for upwelling of cold and nutritious waters. The underwater canyon “Bleiksdjupet” stretches towards Andenes, creating a perfect frame for an unusually rich wildlife. No other place in Europe offers such a variety of whale species year-round. And at no other place in the world is it possible to combine whale watching with midnight sun and northern lights (aurora borealis).

    Andenes Lighthouse ( (built in 1859) encompassed by the midnight sun with the Swizz villa Kiilgården (from 1891) in the foreground.Photo: S.T.K. Eliassen.

    BLEIKSDJUPET is an underwater canyon that stretches from the continental slope towards Andenes. This is the only deep-sea canyon found so close to land in Europe, and may hold answers to the large presence of whales in the sea outside Andenes.

    Photo background: Marten Bril/Sea Safari Andenes
    «The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science».
    Albert Einstein

    Science and art

    SCIENCE AND ART complement each other. At “The Whale”, marine mammals and life in the ocean in general can be observed through both a scientific and artistic perspective. Scientific results will help answering questions about the life of whales. The current research on whales, taking place right outside Andenes, is obviously an important clue in comprehending “The Whale” in its entirety. Art, on the other hand, may inspire to unique reflections and new interpretations of what we see, hear and experience, and thereby build a bridge to a new and better understanding of nature and the phenomenon’s that we observe in nature. The exhibition is not just about what we know, but also about how we came to this knowledge – as well as embracing what we don’t know yet. The mysterious, and the unexplored is just as exciting as the facts, that we already know, and art can help us gaining a new understanding and insight.

    Since the dawn of time, whales have inspired artists from across the world and they continue to do so. At “The Whale”, you can get inspired by new art pieces created specifically for this place, by local and international artists.

    An old Japanese print showing the whaler Musashi on the back of a whale.

    Danish whale station by Abraham Speeck (Netherlands), oil painting, 1634.
    Tristin Lowe’s (USA) “Mocha Dick” showcasing the white whale inspired by Herman Melvilles novel “Moby Dick”.

    Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no
    «Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves».
    Julia Morgan

    The place and the building

    “THE WHALE” is a new hallmark for Andøy. The building signals that the audience can expect a distinctive experience. It is situated on the coast, with a view to the ocean and the waves, and is surrounded by nothing but cliffs, the sky and the ocean. The sound from the ocean, the wind, and the birds is part of the experience. But even though the building is spectacular, it is well adapted to its natural environment and reflects these stunning surroundings well. From here, the audience can enter and hike the powerful landscapes of northern Norway. And if they’re lucky, they’ll see some of the amazing animals presented in “The Whale”.

    Bjarke Ingels Group's (BIG) proposal to an art museum in Nuuk, Greenland, placing a breathtaking building in the middle of the gorgeous landscapes of Greenland.
    A bird hide/observation room in the Kongsfjord designed by the Norwegian architects Biotope.

    Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no

    «Museums have opportunities to influence, challenge and sometimes change how visitors think, inspiring them to take action on big issues and be more informed citizens in an increasingly globalised world».
    Lynda Kelly

    Inside and outside

    “THE WHALE” is just as much an outdoor attraction, as it is an indoor one. Outside you’ll find sculptures that complement the contents of the exhibitions inside the building. There is also space to just sit and relax, have a cup of coffee and some food, or enjoy the playground, which is a part of the outdoor exhibition. The inside has a visual coherence with the landscape outside; the light and the colors of the sky are reflected inside and materials and colors throughout the building are carefully chosen in order to diminish the contrasts between outdoors and indoors.

    Preston Jacksons sculpture is made of plastic as a reminder of the threat plastic pollution is to our marine environment, including whales.

    A whale sculpture in bronze by Gloria Bornstein. Seattle Center, USA. The smooth surface invites children of all age groups to touch, and even climb it.
    From an art project on whales at the Andenes Lighthouse in 1996.

    Hvalbeinutstilling fra Emery community arts center. Farmington, Maine USA

    Photograf bakgrunn: Whalebone Exhibition. Emery community arts center. Farmington, Maine USA.
    «To have a huge, friendly whale willingly approach your boat and look you straight in the eye is without doubt one of the most extraordinary experiences on the planet».
    Mark Carwardine

    International and local

    WHALES EXIST ALL OVER the world, which is why the “The Whale” takes a global perspective. This may be the exciting story about Tom, the Orca, in Australia, who throughout decades helped local whalers find the whales they set out to hunt. Or fascinating legends about narwhales and belugas which support their profound importance in the Inuit culture. You will encounter the brutal whaling period in the Antarctic Ocean, or some of the many entertaining stories about “friendly dolphins” from all around the world. Primarily, however, the unique conditions and the impressive variety of whale species here in Andenes is the theme for the exhibitions at “The Whale”.

    But it is not just the content that is international; the audience is too; People from many different countries and far destinations come to visit “The Whale”. The ambition with “The Whale” is to use the place for lectures, debates, cultural events and other activities for visitors as well as for the local community. Likewise, we aim at making it as vibrant and alive during evenings as it is during the day.

    The interaction between locals and foreigners will enrich both of them, regardless of whether they are tourists or researchers.

    “The Whale” is to be more than an exhibition for people to enjoy. Rather our goal is to produce a place that people use actively, and a place, that sparkles with activity.

    Participating in dissecting a whale is an experience, that students at any age will never forget.
    A LIVING AND ACTIVE MUSEUM invites the audience to be part of dialogues and activities that go beyond the exhibitions. The picture is from a “authors night” at the Louisiana museum in Denmark.

    Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no

    Research and collaboration

    IN ADDITION, “The Whale” will be used as a center for research on whales, and a point of reference to the international whale research society. In this respect, it is prerequisite to create educational material and information, that can be to be used at a local, national and international level.

    Collaboration with universities will be established, and our facilities will be offered to researchers and others who work professionally in the field of whales and marine environments. Strong ties to other research facilities will ensure that “The Whale” has a part to play in the professional environment, where research as well as new knowledge is crucial. “The Whale” will be a junction point for researchers, locals, universities and students. The cooperation between the local community and the business community is a key to guarantee that “The Whale” will be a lively and relevant institution of Andenes. Shop owners, tourist organizations, whale watchers, fishermen, artists and craftsmen, schools, hotels and restaurants are all important partners in contributing the success of “The Whale”.

    «There are many great minds on earth and not all are human».
    Anthony Douglas Williams

    Researchers from the University of Tromsø collaborating with fellow researchers from Danish universities on monitoring satellites for tracking the Orcas near Andenes.

    Photo background: Spermhvaløye. Photo: Nature Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo
    The british artist Andy Goldsworthy’s installation of whale bones. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. Photo: Bruce McAdam.
    «Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works».
    Steve Jobs

    Contents and design

    COMMUNICATION at “The Whale” includes a variety of themes and questions: The evolution of whales, their biology and behavior, research of whales in general, cetacean stranding and whaling, whales in myths and legends as well as their relationship with humans. Successful exhibitions stimulates the intellect while presenting its theme, but successful exhibitions depends on design, presenting the themes with aesthetics that touches the audience emotionally. Therefore, displays throughout “The Whale” will be produced with emphasis on both design and content.

    EVOLUTION AND BIOLOGY OF WHALES. Whales are mammals, and descend from the mammals that more than 50 million years ago gradually adapted to life in the sea. Through times this led to various major adaptations like the loss of hair/fur, relocation of nostrils to the top of the skull, a streamlined body shape and the loss of hind limbs, tail development, sophisticated communication, use of sonar and so on. Photo: Espen Bergersen
    WHALE SPECIES. What is the difference between toothed whales and baleen whales, and how many species are there? The different species of whales and their characteristics as well as their distinctness will be shown. Photo: Espen Bergersen.
    OCEANOGRAPHY AND THE LOCAL MARINE CONDITIONS. The special submarine conditions in the ocean near Andøy are an important part of the exhibition. The continental shelf and the close proximity to the continental edge to the deep sea results in unusual oceanographical circumstances, dictating the conditions for all lifeforms in the ocean right here, the birds and animals living on land as well as the humans residing nearby. 3D-graphics: Søren Buus & Joakim Engel.
    BEHAVIOR OF WHALES. Whales are intelligent mammals, often demonstrating advanced social behavior. Many species live in pods with a distinct social structure, and they can communicate by sound over great distances. Photo: Marten Bril/Sea Safari Andenes.
    WHALES IN CULTURAL HISTORY. Everywhere in the world, whales have been an inspiration for human fantasies, legends and myths. Many cultures worship whales, and they have often been depicted or turned into figurines. Our Scandinavian ancestors have illustrated them in stone carvings. (Illustration by Bakka 1988. From Hammer in Steinkjer. bergkunstmuseet.no)
    WHALING AND STRANDINGS. Whaling is an exciting chapter in the history of whales, where Norway has played a particular part. Whaling refers both to the historical whaling, that began in the 17th century, as well as the modern whaling that continues to this day. Whaling is a controversial subject, and “The Whale” has a unique opportunity to create awareness, understanding, and dialogue through communicating knowledge and discussing it. Foto: Wiki Commons.
    Orcas and humpback whales hunting herring. The black part of the picture is a large shoal of herring chased into shallow water by killer whales. The picture is taken by a drone, which is being used more and more often to study animals in their natural habitat.

    Analogue and digital

    THE ARTIFACTS – THE OBJECTS are the backbone of all exhibitions, as they allow the audience to get close to the core of theme. “The Whale” will be filled with authentic fascinating artifacts. Whale skeletons will be displayed, which by their immense size alone are fantastic and beautiful to behold. The heart of a whale is so enormous, that it is hard to comprehend, and the eyes are both repulsive and appealing at the same time. There are also cultural artifacts from around the world. Bones and teeth from whales shaped to be used as tools or small spiritual figurines,and arts and crafts decorated with whale ornaments. In many cultures like ancient Greece and the native Indians on the American west coast, whales are widely represented in their spiritual world.

    An important way of presenting a topic involves digital installations and techniques. It allows us to create new and unique experiences with film, audio, and video mapping etc. and as such we can take our visitors beneath the surface, into the world of the whales.

    The integration of film and digital media will help develop several layers of entertainment at “The Whale”. Film and audio will also help visitors sense the size and behavior of these mammals underneath the surface. Sketch: Joakim Engel.
    Whale exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

    Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no
    «That’s the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up».
    Walt Disney

    For children and adults

    “THE WHALE” is just as exciting for children as it is for adults. There is no singular section reserved for either. – Instead, the exhibitions are designed so that they can be enjoyed in groups including different ages. The fascination of animals and nature is not reserved for children, and it’s equally important that our exhibitions don’t talk “down” to adults. Many of the themes represented will be captivating and relevant for adults, for example, topics such as resource management, climate change, and crises of biodiversity. And “The Whale” is also about all of these things.

    “The Whale” takes its audience seriously and communicates to an audience with different interests and background knowledge.

    Enjoying the attractions together is an important aspect for many families.
    Magical meeting. Large picture: A whale heart conserved in ethanol, Natural History Museum of Denmark.
    Foto: Bonita Cooke. Kaikoura, Marlborough/Canterbury (New Zealand)

    Photo: Statens Naturhistoriske Museum, Danmark.
    «We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing».
    George Bernard Shaw

    Det lærende og det lekende

    MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT part of “The Whale” is that it allows more people to get in contact with nature and science. Whales are inherently interesting and they’re also great ambassadors for the marine environment and climate, and they can contribute to generate more spotlight on broader, important topics like resource management, climate change and nature conservation.

    “The Whale” is a place where children and young people from Andøy (and other places) can receive education, and participate in projects on whales, or marine environment, climate change and other questions related to the ocean. By virtue of the audience that the museum attracts, and the enthusiasm created by guides, lecturers and staff members, “The Whale” becomes a vibrant and international contact point for local children and young people. They will be able to meet professional experts, get education and practical experience by working here during the season, and by being part of this dynamic and exciting atmosphere.

    However, visiting “The Whale” is also about enjoying yourself and having a good time. For many of our visitors it is a place to be used for leisure, and it shouldn’t feel as if you’re back in school.

    The exhibitions are intriguing to those who like to relax and enjoy time on their own or with their family.

    “The Whale” will develop educational material for schools, and participate in collaboration to teach the students about the ocean, whales and marine ecology. There will also be an option to explore things further individually.
    An art project where the organization, Washedashore.org, has created a whale’s skeleton from plastic items collected on beaches. Some of the organizations projects have been showcased at The Smithsonian Museum and other places. Similar projects can be made in collaboration with local schools, and later exhibited at “The Whale”.

    Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no
    «Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more».
    Vincent Van Gogh

    Souvenir shop and café

    AT “THE WHALE”, the shop and café have merged into one. It is an original and characteristic area, which is arranged to maintain a homogeneous spirit throughout the entire center. The design makes it an attraction in itself. The experience from the exhibitions continues into the shopand cafe-area, and it is difficult to decipher if the whales hanging from the roof are part of the displays or if they’re for sale. The goal is to have the place filled with impressions and objects, and that it’s possible to purchase some of them! The shop and café focus on local products, on sustainability and on the use of natural materials. Many of the shop’s items are produced locally, and local craftsmen are a part of the environment around the shop.

    The café will serve delicious food, and once again there is emphasis on the local raw materials and recipes. There is always food from the ocean, and it’s possible to get vegetarian dishes.

    A good example of a successful shop is the combination of both shop and café in Bill’s produce (Brighton & Lewes).
    Inspiration from the local natural environment. A glass piece that has been smoothened by the sea now functions as jewelry. Dick Monshouwer’s jewelry with a little sea shell, or Ingrid Larssen’s textile sculptures.

    Photo background: Ingrid Larssen. ingridlarssen.no

    The project is supported by