Knut Hansvold

Bø Museum tells of adventures and fairy tales

A local museum telling the story of the tough everyday lives of fisherman farmers, but also exciting and scary fairy tales and elf queens. The central theme of Bø Museum is adventure – all you need to do is surrender yourself to it!

Bø Museum is in the old District Sheriff’s house of Parkvoll. This is where the District Sheriff’s office was situated between 1919 and 1956. It is a beautiful wooden Art Nouveau house with well-preserved furniture from a range of different eras. The conservatory on the first floor must have been a lovely room in which to have morning coffee on a sunny day in late winter. Throughout the house there are exhibitions on various local history subjects, and in the outhouses around is a huge range of varied exhibitions. Bø Museum has made itself the specialist in fairy tales, sagas and the oral storytelling tradition.

Regine was a fairytale creator

Regine Normann (1867–1939) was the ‘storyteller of Nordland’. Her debut work, the novel ‘Krabvåg’ was published by Aschehoug in 1905. Regine wrote a total of 18 books. However, what she is most remembered for are her fairy tale poems – action-packed and exciting fairy tales set in the coastal region of Northern Norway. Regine Normann’s childhood in Bø ended when her father died and she was fostered. However, Regine returned to Bø, where at 17 she married a much older man. The unhappy marriage was dissolved after 10 years; by then Regine had moved to Oslo, trained as a teacher and had her first novel published. In a light and pretty room in the District Sheriff’s house you can read more about Regine Normann in an exhibition in text and pictures.

Delve into the mind of Regine

Children of all ages are also invited to the fairytale forest to listen to the fairy tales of Regine Normann. There are three areas, namely sea, forest and mountains. You have to take your shoes off so that you don’t wake the ghosts and trolls. You put headphones on and listen to the actress Henny Moan read out stories of goblins and trolls – some short and funny, and others longer and quite scary. The fairy tales are also in English.

An outhouse full of artefact rarities awaits outside the main building

In the outhouse, Bø Museum has an impressive collection of everyday artefacts from the bygone days of Bø. Everyone admires the sleigh, winter dairy cart, a beautifully carved sled and a pair of solid wooden skis, but we all bridle at the otter and fox traps. However, trapping animals for their fur was an important and welcome way for people to supplement their income. Agricultural rakes, scythes and pitchforks, a steelyard for weighing fish and other fishing equipment complete the collection.

A ‘Rorbu’ fishermen’s cottage and boathouse are on site

One of the outhouses is an old ‘rorbu’ fishermen’s cottage. Rorbuer were simple buildings designed to shelter fishermen during the seasonal fisheries, of which the Lofoten fishery was by far the most important. All men over confirmation age then travelled from their homes to take part, and were usually away for months. There is a Lofoten chest in the middle of the room, where changes of clothes and dried food were stored, and a compartment with a secret bottom inside the chest contained money and a hymn book. Thick wadmal clothing, fishing nets and thick rugs to lie under are also here. A good rug was priceless, and legend has it that a fisherman once shouted out from the water during a shipwreck “save the rug first!”. Various boats are also on display in a separate boathouse; the biggest of these is a boat from 1874 with four pairs of oars.

There’s a turf hut for the elf queen

Turf huts are a tradition going back thousands of years in northern Scandinavia. Below the museum, a turf hut with curved wooden supports has been constructed; this is a turf hut mainly supported by two birch arches and a cross-piece. The shape is ancient, but the content comes from Borgarfjörður on east coast of Iceland. Elves were a central feature of popular Icelandic beliefs, and the hut has been decorated like Alveborg, the Elf’s Castle, or residence of the elf queen. Blue is the colour of the elves, so blue dominates, and the benches glitter with elven treasure.

Regine Day happens every July

At the end of July, Regine Day is held on an open-air stage in the museum grounds. Regine Day is the major cultural occasion in Bø, and there are concerts and other events in the spirit of Regine. Bø Museum has long opening hours in summer, and short guided tours are provided, depending on demand.

The museum is open in autumn, winter and spring on request, and holds many events. Children are given plenty of space to listen to fairy tales and create their own drawings. Every summer there is a new exhibition. A short way from the museum is the 4.3 metre (14 ft) high ‘Man from the Sea’ sculpture, which is part of the Artscape Nordland art project. From here you can look out at Gaukværøy island and the whole archipelago. 

Visit Vesterålen

The local tourist board has all the information you need about visiting the local area including Bø Museum.