The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard takes an important step forward in its cultural heritage management with the opening of a completely new storage facility for archaeological objects. Sited in the main settlement Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, the storage facility also contains a conservation laboratory managed by a full-time technical conservator. The new building which contains the depot, also houses a research centre, the modernised Svalbard Museum and the Governor’s environmental information centre. The joint location of all these functions will give mutual benefit and, not least, allow Svalbard’s cultural history to be protected, researched and exhibited in an optimum fashion.
The opening of the depot is marked by the return of the largest and best-researched archaeological collection from Svalbard, the Dutch Smeerenburg Collection from a 17th century whaling station which was excavated in north-west Svalbard in 1979-81. The Norwegian authorities hope that this will be an example to other institutions and persons who have artefacts originating from Svalbard. (November 2005)