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New information centre in Ny-Ålesund opened today

An updated and upgraded Information Centre opened today its doors for scientists, inhabitants and visitors in Ny-Ålesund.

Every summer thousands of tourists visit Ny-Ålesund by cruise ships. Now they have the opportunity to learn about life and research in the high Arctic research base. But also researchers and managers, politicians and other visitors will find interesting topics to dive into.

Thanks to considerable funding from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund, Kings Bay AS and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), a long existing plan to upgrade the old information centre into a modern and up-to date exhibition could be put into action this winter.

'It was a big endeavour and the exhibition is the result of a great cooperation between many partners that contributed with ideas, text, pictures, items and comments' says project leader Bendik Eithun Halgunset from Kings Bay AS. Both Kings Bay AS, NPI, the Ny-Ålesund Science Managers Committee (NySMAC) and many researchers are among the contributors.

The exhibition is divided into four parts, presenting impressions of the flora and fauna in Svalbard, life in Ny-Ålesund througout the year, research activities, and the use and protection of the Arctic nature.

Research activities are illustrated by the four flagship programmes in Ny-Ålesund: atmosphere, marine and terrestrial systems and research about snow and ice. Information is presented as video installations, pictures and short text on the walls. There are also several items used for research that complete the impression of science in the Arctic.

The exhibition is situated in one of the best conserved old buildings in Ny-Ålesund. The old barn was built in 1917 and houses both the museum that shows the mining history of Ny-Ålesund and the new information centre that explains the current activities in the town.

The project was conducted in close cooperation with the cultural department of the Governor of Svalbard. 'It is always a challenge to work with old buildings that are protected as cultural heritage, but here a great solution has been found to display a modern exhibition within the historical rooms that still allows to imagine the old times, when this part of the building was used as shop' says Siri Hoem, cultural consultant from the Governor of Svalbard.

The exhibition is open for everyone and presented in three languages: English, Norwegian and German.




The old barn - home for the new information centre in Ny-Ålesund.

The Korean researcher Namyi Chae and the German station leader Marcus Schumacher enjoy the exhibition after the opening ceremony on Monday, 29 June 2009.

The counter of the old shop (in the background) is still an integrated part of the room.

The other part of the building hosts the museum about Ny-Ålesunds time as mining town (All photos: C. Hübner)


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