The Heiberg Collection is named after its founder, Gert Falch Heiberg (1871-1944). He owned an estate in Amla, Kaupanger, and was a passionate collector. Around 1900, he started collecting agricultural antiques from Sogn, and various tools from all around the country. This collection marked the beginning of an extensive life’s work, and eventually a heritage museum in Sogn.
This happened around the same time as Hans Aall founded the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History on Bygdøy, just outside Oslo, and Anders Sandvig founded the Sandvig Collection, Maihaugen, in Lillehammer. You might therefore claim that these three make up the pioneers of Norwegian outdoor heritage museums.
This was an era of modernisation among Norwegian rural farm communities. Old farming tools became obsolete, replaced by modern equipment. Building techniques, communication and social norms were evolving.
The time period around 1905 was also characterised by national fervour and increased self-assertion within rural society. This helped pave the way for heritage museums.
Heiberg’s museum began as a private collection, but was transferred to the newly established Sogn History Society as early as 1909. By then, the collection already contained 3000 objects, a house, a rune stone, and more.
G. F. Heiberg developed the museum in beautiful surroundings at his Amla farm, and managed it right up until his death. A separate museum building was erected in 1905, and a larger one was built in 1934 to house the Sogn boats and the tool collection.
From 1903 to 1945, 17 houses of various sizes were moved here from different locations in Sogn and placed on the museum grounds. By the time he died, over 20,000 objects had been catalogued by Heiberg himself, using meticulous handwriting.
In the 1970s, a transfer of the museum to Kaupangerskogen, between Sogndal and Kaupanger, was initiated. The new exhibition building was put to use in 1980, and today all the buildings and objects have been moved to the new museum grounds.
A living cultural landscape is maintained here using traditional farming techniques.
The collection of boats, fishing tools and other objects related to fjord culture was transferred to a separate branch in 1990, the Sogn Fjord Museum, located by the old ferry dock in Kaupanger.
In 2009, the Heiberg Collection - Sogn Museum of Cultural History, was incorporated into the Museums in Sogn og Fjordane (MISF) foundation.
Photo: Gjert F. Heiberg at the old museum grounds