Karmøy has four museums telling the island’s history over the past several hundred years. Skudeneshavn’s Museum in Mælandsgården tells the story of the town that grew on the back of the herring fisheries. Åkrehamn Coastal Museum and Karmøy Fishery Museum display the cultural heritage of the coast and the fishing community that was so vital to the people of Karmøy. At Visnes Norway’s largest copper mine once stood, which supplied the cladding for the Statue of Liberty in New York. The Nordvegen History Centre reflects on Norway’s history over the past 3500 years.
In its day Visnes Copper Mine was the largest and most modern in Northern Europe. Operating in two periods between 1865–1972 the mine produced 4.2 million tonnes of unrefined copper, zinc and sulphur. In 1882 we are told that Visnes was “Norway’s largest workplace”, with almost 1000 workers at the peak. In just a few years the hamlet at Visnes was transformed to become a thriving mining town, with almost 3000 inhabitants, school, hospital, dairy and shops. Open in summer.
The Mæland Museum inhabits an old, listed timber building in Skudeneshavn. The town itself grew up in the 19th Century on the back of the bountiful herring fisheries. Visitors will get an idea of how the town expanded, see how a prosperous family of merchants lived 150 years ago, and examine the craftsmanship that formed the streets. Open in summer.
This interesting collection, situated in the fishing harbour, has displays of many artefacts and photographs of bygone days, when Karmøy was a leading fishing hub, and links with America were close. The Nora Wharf is one of just a few salted herring factories still intact. Open in summer.
Exhibits show how the fisheries have developed from the first days of motor-powered boats to the present. The Saltwater Aquarium and Café are both worth a visit. The striking visual appearance of the building is the work of the Snøhetta architectural team, who also did the new National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, and the Great Library of Alexandria, in Egypt. Open in summer.
Here you can meet Harald Fairhair who united Norway, making Avaldsnes Norway’s oldest royal seat. Harald stands ready to guide visitors through 3500 years of historical time, when Avaldsnes was the place where Norway and continental Europe met and interacted. Harald tells of his realm and introduces some of the barons who ruled over Avaldsnes and controlled shipping up and down the North Way coast.