THE WHALE, ANDENES, INITIATION PHASE
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.
“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).
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.
“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”.
Photo background: Espen Bergersen/Naturgalleriet.no
“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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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).