Trastad Samlinger, The South Troms Museum, Kvæfjord, Norway

We are off again and coming to our next stop……we are looking for a museum……and I can say I never expected to find a museum in a more picturesque setting! Turning off the main road and driving up the hill ………..

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum Area

A closer look……I think I could wake up to this every morning!

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum Area

and a look at the barn……….

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum Area

and on the hill we arrive at a blue, cement cast building named, Trastad Samlinger.

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Trastad Samlinger

Trastad Samlinger has its origins, beginning as the Trastad Farm in Kvæfjord. After WWII, a building was erected, which became the central institution, for mentally and physically handicapped children and adults in Northern Norway between 1954 and 1991. The history of the institution reveals how after WWII, “not teachable people” were moved from their homes to this place. The average number of residents at any one time was 375, but at times went as high as 600.  This institution was one of the first in Norway to offer these people a chance to attend school. There were little houses on the hill behind the main building, where caregivers, medical staff and workers were housed. Many of these buildings are gone now. Here, we are at the entrance and our guide is waiting for us….

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

It looks like, from the emblem on the outside, that the Lutheran Church, may have been a sponsor, at one time.

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

As we enter the lower floor, the first thing I smell is carbolic soap……the odor has permeated the walls…..  Carbolic soap is legendary. Carbolic acid gives it its distinctive smell (think of a combination of old people and hospital) and is used as a  mild antiseptic that is so effective it is most often used in relief areas, where wide scale hygiene programs are needed. Since this is the original building, I am not surprised by the smell. But, what kind of program was needed here? For several years, after the institution was opened, children and adults were housed together with their daily lives consisting of  the basic primary care of eating and sleeping. They really didn’t know what else to do with them. As in many institutions at the time, the severely handicapped were restrained in their beds. A fresh face was brought in, who dramatically changed the program, a teacher. She said the residents were handicapped yes, but their main problem was boredom. She set about to change things up. She started with an art program and then a work program. From 1966, there was an additional nursing program until 1996, when the facility closed and became a museum. At that time, it was decided that the residents should be cared for in their local communities and not so far from home. I am sure that many residents never saw their families again once they came here. But, when the school closed many residents, who had lived here all their lives, did not want to return to their homes. That would have been heartbreaking too. Past residents are frequent visitors, because the school and the treatment they received here, was special to them. Let’s go up the stairs to the second floor to the second part of the museum, where we can see some of the art that was done here……..

The Trastad Gallery, currently, has a national and international collection of Raw Art, also known as Outsider Art. These artworks were created by former residents at the Trasdad Farm. The main focus of the collection is to increase knowledge of so-called outsider groups (people who live outside the norm) to receive recognition in an artistic context. The training which began here in the 50’s had surprising results. Their art is shown in Norway and abroad and two artists, who grew up in the institution, are today recognized artists in Norway. A new exhibition hall is due to be opened in 2021 and Wenche Nilson and Oddleif Bang, will have their works shown in the opening exhibition, called, “I call it art.” Norway is to be praised, for it has revealed a new genre of art, that is unlearned and original. Let’s look at some of their art! Many different forms of creativity were offered here……

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum
Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

There is a lot of art to see here, but I wanted you to get an idea…………

I had to retrace my steps, back to the living areas for the residents too. I thought everything should be shown; the good and the bad. It was, what it was, for the times………. I am sure the living spaces were much tighter than what is shown now……….The dining hall…….

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

The sleeping rooms……….with beds that can’t be moved……..

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

The beds for residents that had to be restrained…….

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

The cribs with really high protection sides and the many sizes of restraints……….

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

The outdoor activities included, skiing, skating and some hiking………..there was also a bus, that would take them out for a ride.

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

And finally a bike used by residents and probably caregivers as well, to bring in supplies!

Harstad, Norway, South Troms Museum

This museum was certainly nothing that I expected. And, I am sure one of a kind. I am so glad we got to visit and I wish the best for their new project facilities!

We have other stops today, so we have to go! See you next at the Farm……..we’re going to meet some folks!

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