Anyone who travels through Norway with open eyes will discover exciting and atypical Norwegian architecture in many places. Today we are in Alstahaug in Helgeland and are approaching the architecture of the Petter Dass Museum.

Architecture in Norway: Petter Dass Museum

If you travel through Norway with open eyes, you will discover exciting and atypical Norwegian architecture in many places. Today we are in Alstahaug in Helgeland and we are approaching the architecture of the Petter Dass Museum.

The side of the country, which is often rather unknown to non-Norwegians, also includes the artistic diversity that exists across the country in Norway to discover there. The example of the Petter Dass Museum in Alstahaug on the coast of Helgeland, southern Nordland, shows that cultural treasures such as that of the Norwegian writer Petter Dass are combined with modern architecture.

Petter Dass – one of the famous Norwegian ones Poet

Petter Dass is one of the most famous Norwegian poets and lyricists of the 17th century. His works deal with the rough nature and the identity of the people who have found their home in this environment. He is also one of the great writers of hymns.

His works are repeatedly published in new editions to this day and have always been an inspiration for other artists, in very different genres.

Here in In Alstahaug, a community that now includes 920 small islands, Petter Dass was probably born in 1648. His father was a Scottish merchant. He himself studied theology in Copenhagen and then worked in his home country until his death on August 17, 1707 as a tutor, chaplain and priest.

Petter Dass is said to have been a very self-confident and radiant personality around Many a legend also has its place. Even as a pious person he shouldn’t let himself be intimidated by the devil. He caused a scandal right at the beginning of his professional career: As a tutor of the resident priest, he became intimate with his daughter and she became pregnant. That didn’t go down well, but it didn’t hurt him in the long run either.

The home of Petter Dass: Alstahaug

Alstahaug, as I said, is on the one hand the home of Petter Dass, on the other hand it is also a large commune. Around 7,400 people live in Alstahaug. But we find the most beautiful place in Alstahaug here, right on the coastal panorama route through Helgeland. A stone church with an onion dome is quite unusual for Norway, but the red houses behind it can be found all over Norway and they are part of what we associate with Norway.

Right behind the ensemble of church and residential houses, a rocky hill extends across the buildings. And right in the middle of this historical setting is the Petter Dass Museum.

The architecture of the Petter Dass Museum

The Alstahaug municipality wanted to erect a memorial to its most famous citizen. And so the Norwegian-American architecture firm Snøhetta AS was commissioned to create a building as a symbol of the region, which should be worthy of the life and work of Petter Dass. It was assumed that the future Petter Dass Museum would be integrated into the landscape.

The name of the architectural office, Snøhetta, is also the program for approaching such a project. The building was not intended to be a high-rise, but rather one that integrates flatly into the landscape like a snow cap.

Snøhetta AS is known for its very own architectural style; in terms of form, their designs are simple and as low as possible and horizontal. They don’t rise, they integrate. They form a symbolic contrast to the environment in the context of the topic.

The Petter Dass Museum is a building close to the ground, in keeping with the down-to-earth attitude of the poet and poet Petter Dass. It is modest in appearance and powerful in its demeanor. Just like the works of Petter Dass.

The Petter Dass Museum consists of a steel and concrete construction, is fitted into the milled rocks, just as an integral part of the environment as the poems by Petter Dass about the Nature and the rough life in his native environment, the southern Nordland.

To the front, the Petter Dass Museum is wide open to everyone, another metaphor for the artist’s works. On the ground floor there is a spacious reception hall with a small museum shop and a reception, an auditorium, cloakroom, toilets and an open, simple café.

On the level above, the exhibition areas of the Petter Dass Museum are housed, in the third On the 1st floor the library, offices and meeting rooms.

The Petter Dass Museum is located exactly between the Alstahaug church and the group of buildings, stepping back behind the building line. And yet it connects the Church to worldly life. This is how you enter the Petter Dass Museum, where you walk between the church and the residential buildings towards the main portal of the museum with its large open front. On the back, the architecture of the Petter Dass Museum rises above the sea, with a dark front. The sea, with which the Norwegian people have always been deeply rooted, and the sea, which they have always had to face but at the same time benefit from by keeping an overview.

International prizes and awards for the architecture of Petter Dass Museum Alstahaug

First of all, it is worth mentioning that the architecture firm Snøhetta AS works with an equal structure and teamwork comes first. It is also noteworthy that the designs were created in close collaboration between an architect and a landscape architect.

The architecture of the Petter Dass Museum has met with great national and international interest since then. He received the following awards and recognition:

  • Honorable mention in connection with the presentation of the National Building Settlement Award 2008.
  • Nominated with the Norwegian Opera & amp; Ballet as Norwegian participant in the World Architecture Festival in the category Barcelona Culture, 2008.
  • 2010 named “Northern Norwegian Building of the Year” by the Northern Norwegian Entrepreneurs Service Organization (NESO).


  • ArchDaily: Your own look at the architecture website, on which the world’s most renowned and architectural projects are presented.
  • Taschen Verlag: “ARCHITECTURE NOW! MUSEUMS ”, 2011. Mentioned as the only museum building in the Nordic countries.
  • Lars Müller Verlag:” SNOWHETTA WORKS “, 2009.

The building is also represented in the“ SPOR ”exhibition at the National Museum. Norwegian Architecture 2005-2010 “which was exhibited at the National Museum in 2011. The exhibition has traveled internationally and nationally since 2012.

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