Ny-Ålesund By- og Gruvemuseum

Useful Information

Location: Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.
(78.925407, 11.930215)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Address: Ny-Ålesund By- og Gruvemuseum, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1600s place first visited.
1917 building of the museum constructed for storage.
1920 building converted into the town store.
05-NOV-1962 mining accident with 21 killed miners.
1963 coal mine closed after the Kings Bay Affair.
1988 museum opened.
2009 new information centre was opened in the building.
2011 beginning of modernization of the museum.
2014 museum reopened after modernization.



The Ny-Ålesund By- og Gruvemuseum (Ny-Ålesund Town and Mine Museum) is located, as the name states, at Ny-Ålesund on Spitsbergen, an island of Norwegian Svalbard. It is the northernmost museum of the world, although this superlative is generally attributed to the Svalbard Museum in the capital Longyearbyen. But this museum is about 70 km further north.

Ny-Ålesund is a former coal mining settlement, founded in 1917 by Peter Brandal and his mining company, Kings Bay Kull Comp. At this time, it was more or less clear that coal mining was the only profitable mining operation on the islands. The small village was built by the mining company and is until today a so-called company town, which is owned and operated by Kings Bay. The building of the museum was erected as a typical norwegian wood house, and used for storage. After a few years 1920 the town needed a general store, and the building was transformed into a classical company store.

But the mining ended in 1963, some say because of several fatal accidents. The last was the mining accident on 05-NOV-1962 which killed 21 miners. The result was the Kings Bay-saken (Kings Bay Affair), which was a dramatic episode in Norwegian political history. The mining company was owned by the Norwegian government, and the accident which killed 21 miners was a result of governmental mismanagement. It finally brought down the government of Einar Gerhardsen and formed the basis for non-socialist coalition politics. That's actually the only mining related change of government we know of.

The place where the town is today was first visited in the 17th century. It became a steady settlement when coal mining started, the buildings were erected by the mining company for their miners. The town was not abandonend when the mine was closed, it became a centre of international Arctic and polar research. It houses, for example, the scientific bases Arctic Yellow River Station belonging to China and the Himadri Station belonging to India.