This article is part of the series “2018-03: Varanger peninsula”.
Day 37 of my winter journey 2018
When we left Kirkenes last year we got the tip to visit the Sjøsamiske samlinger – the Sea Sami Collections in Byluft. We went there and were amazed at the huge collection of showpieces. This year we visited the museum again, this time with more time and a warmer winter jacket, since the exhibition rooms are not heated.
Helmer Losoa, who runs the museum gave us a warm welcome and asked us in to coffee, where he talked about the museum’s and his personal history.
Helmer was born and grew up in Byluft. Aged 15 he went to sea on the training ship M/S Gann. That was in the ’50s. He travelled for many years and lived in Oslo a long time. When he moved back to Byluft in 1990 much had changed. Everything was motorised and many things were made of plastic. Helmer wondered what had happened to the old things of the Sea Sami in this region and started to collect many items, mostly from the years 1830 – 1950. He got support for building the museum but not for running it. A part of the items were donated to the collections, but most things Helmer bought himself from his own money.
After drinking coffee and listening to Helmer we went to the museum and Helmer showed us around.
There are many facets that make the Sea Sami Collections especially interesting:
- While many other museums focus on the Mountain Sami who herded reindeers, this museum focuses on the more unknown Sea Sami who lived by the Norwegian coast of fishing, farming and hunting.
- The exhibition is huge! I guess you could build at least ten new museums all over Northern Norway from all the exhibits that Helmer collected under the last 28 years.
- Helmer can tell many stories about the showpieces in his collection. Some of them belonged to his relatives and he knows a lot about the history behind.
- There are no glass boxes. You can have a close look at everything and with Helmer’s permission you are allowed to touch some of the items.
- The museum reflects the everyday life of the Sea Sami in older times. Beside of wooden boats or fishing equipment you will find old coffeepots or radios, too.
We stayed in the museum quite a long time. It probably would take weeks to look at all the showpieces in detail. We looked around, asked questions to Helmer and listened to his stories. After some time we left the museum and said goodbye to Helmer.
Thank you so very much, Helmer! It was a pleasure to meet you again and to be guided through your Sea Sami Collections. Hopefully we’ll meet again sometime.
The Sea Sami Collections are located in Byluft, 29 km east from Varangerbotn.