This is the collection (and my participation in its revision and digitization) that really got me interested in the questions about digitization that then led me to doing this fellowship project -and now this collection is finally online!
It is not huge compared to international standards (about 60.000 objects), but it is the most important ethnographic collection in Norway and quite an early one.
The Ethnographic Collection of the Museum of Cultural History (Kulturhistorisk museum, KHM) was founded as part of the University of Oslo in 1854 at a time when Norway was rediscovering and inventing its national identity after centuries under Danish rule. The first objects thus included “ethnographic left overs” from Danish museums and items representing Norwegian peasant culture and northern Sami culture. With time most of the Norwegian and Sami objects were transferred to the Folk Museum (Norsk folkemuseum), and the Egyptian and European antiquities became an independent collection within KHM (then called Historic Museum). Today the strength of the Ethnographic Collection are the collections from Artic regions, East-Africa, Japan, Tibet, Melanesia and Polynesia. My personal favorite is the little collection from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and my next project will hopefully be to document that collection better.
So far the language of navigation of Etnobasen is Norwegian only, but one can navigate by using this map view.
Or search by place names in the general search (“Søk”) above the map. In Norwegian one can also search by theme, material, place and people.
For my friends in Alaska this search takes you directly to the 921 objects thought to be from your corner of the States.
The process of revising the collection is far from over, so many objects do not have photos, some have the wrong photos, wrong origin and the contextual information about the objects leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, time and money are also important issues for museums in one of the world’s richest countries.
Yet hopefully this is a beginning of a new life for this quite little known collection.