About the collection and the project
This website is a collaborative effort. It brings together objects, photographs and documentation, related to the collection of traditional Inuit material culture made in Gjoa Haven 1903-1905, by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. The resources have been prepared in Gjoa Haven and Oslo, by the Nattilik Heritage Centre and the Museum of Cultural History.
Collaboration and digital sharing
This digital sharing portal is one result of the collaboration between the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. We have been working together, engaging with the Gjoa Haven/ Amundsen collection, since 2010. In 2013 some objects from the collection were returned to Gjoa Haven, to become part of the displays at the Nattilik Heritage Centre.
This digital sharing portal gives access to the entire collection of artefacts and photographs, the materials currently held in Gjoa Haven as well as those in Oslo. Making this material available online has been a premise and goal of our collaboration from day one. A lot of effort has gone into translating and adapting the materials for digital sharing. Please come in, explore, engage, and feel welcome to share knowledge and help us make what is here even richer!
This project has been made possible by the generous support provided by the following:
We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage's Museum Assistance Program (April 1st, 2014 to March 31st, 2016, Funding research, travel, translation, interpretation)
We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the Government of Nunavut, Department of Culture and Heritage, Language initiatives (April 1st, 2015 - March 31st, 2016, Funding Nattilingmiut Translations)
The Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, has provided financial support to make the publication of this portal possible.
Translation has been the crucial and all important core of this project. Our wonderful translators have, quite simply, made sharing on this website possible.
Translation to English by Nancy Frank. Translation to Inuktitut/ Nattilingmiut by Simon Okpakok, Gjoa Haven. Translation to Quebecois: Straker Translations, Quebec.
The collaborating partners
This project originates in the continued collaboration between the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.
Without the commitment and vision of the board of the Nattilik Heritage Society in Gjoa Haven none of what we have accomplished here would have been possible: Chairperson Jacob Keanik, Joanni Sallerina, Uriash Puqiqnak, Salomie Qitsualik, Peter Akkukignaq and Simon Komangat.
This is also the case for managers and staff members at Nattilik Heritage Centre during this time, among them manages Joseph Aglukkaq, Obrian Kydd and Ed Stewart, and staff members Helen Kaloon, Anthony Anguttitauruq, Kelly Putuguq, Simon Okpakok, Lorraine Puqiqnak, Jennifer Pooyatak, Martha Porter, and all the casuals. Thanks to you, and all other community members and visitors to the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven, for making the everyday business of collaboration always interesting, engaging, and a pleasure!
At the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo the Department of Ethnography, Numismatics, and Classical Archaeology and the Section for Digital Documentation, IT and Archiving in the Collections Department have had a particular involvement with the project, as has the Data Capture and Collections Management group at the University Centre for Information Technology. The User experience group at UCIT/ UiO have been instrumental in putting the final portal together.
Working with the collection
The project owes a very particular debt to all the Elders in Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Kugaaruk who ave shared so generously with us.
First workshop in Gjoa Haven, October 2014
From back left: Jacob Keanik (interpreter), Tone Wang (coordinator), Jimmy Qirqqut (Elder), Jonathan Hiqiniq (Elder), Tommy Tavalok (Elder), Lorraine Puqiqnak (interpreter), Leo Humituq (Elder), Saul Qirngnirq (Elder).
Second workshop in Gjoa Haven, October 2014
Alissa Kameemalik (Elder), Ruth Qirqqut (Elder), Mary Aqirgiaq (Elder), Rosie Kigeak (Elder), Lorraine Puqiqnak (interpreter), Lucy Nimiqtaqtuq (Elder). In front Jacob Keanik (interpreter).
Workshop in Taloyoak at the Elders Palace, April 2015.
Lena Kingmiaqtuq (Elder), Bernadette Uttaq (Elder), David Iguttaq (Elder), John Manilaq (Elder), Sarah Takolik (Elder), Jacob Keanik (interpreter), Peter Manilaq (interpreter).
Workshop in Gjoa Haven with elders from Kugaaruk, April 2015
From left, back: Lorraine Puqiqnak (interpreter), Tone Wang (coordinator), Marie Anguti (Elder), Maria Niptayuk (Elder), Theresa Sikkuark (Elder), Jacob Keanik (interpreter), Christian Nalungiaq (Elder) and Dominiqe Inutuinaq (Elder).
Workshop in Kugaaruk making traditional artefacts at Kugaardjuk Ilihakvik, September 2015
Back row: Lorraine Puqiqnak (interpreter), Tone Wang (coordinator), Jacob Keanik (interpreter). Front row: Elders Maria Niptayuk, Levi Illuitok and Christian Nalungiaq.
Workshop in Kugaaruk at Kugaardjuk Ilihakvik, September 2015
Back row: Tone Wang (coordinator), Lorraine Puqiqnak (interpreter), Jacob Keanik (interpreter). Front row: Elders Levi Illuitok, Barthelemey Nirlungayuk, Ovide Alakannuark, Gyta Inuksaq and Marie Anguti.
In addition to the Elders who contributed during these workshops, others have also made invaluable contributions during community events at the Nattilik Heritage Centre. To everyone who made time for this project: It was deeply appreciated, and we can never thank you enough.
The Gjoa Haven/ Amundsen Collection
Traditional Inuit material culture
The collections catalogue available here present materials collected on King William Island in the period 1903-05. Roald Amundsen and his crew of 6 spent this period, almost two years, living in Gjoa Haven. They made fast friends of the Inuit who travelled in the area and visited, bartering knives and other metal for the objects you can explore in this portal. The collection is an unique time travel capsule taking us back to the everyday objects of a time long past.
The collection first arrived in Oslo in December 1906. It has been on display at the Museum of Cultural History continuously since then. It is an absolute pleasure for us to now be able to share it not only with visitors to the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven, but also with all who visits this portal.
The objects have been photographed at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. Some photos are recent, others are older. This can be seen in the use of black and white/ colour images.
Roald Amundsen and his crew made the historic photographs presented here, during their stay in Gjoa Haven 1903-06. We have no information about what cameras the expedition brought along, but there were at least two, as one of the photographs in Amundsen’s book shows Godfred Hansen photographing a woman identified as Kabluka.
The photographs were made on 13x18 cm glass plates, and processed on the ship Gjoa, usually straight after exposure. Some of the photographs appear as stereoscopic images. These were possibly done with a special set of two lenses, placed at a small angle on the front of the camera, exposing two slightly different images on the same negative. After being printed, the images could be viewed with the help of a stereoscopic viewer.
MCH photographer Ann Christine Eek has prepared the photographs for presentation here.
A few pieces of sculpture by Gjoa Haven artists Uriash Puqiqnak, Joseph Sushlaq, Leo Uttaq, Wayne Puqiqnak, Moses Kamookak and Samuel Ullulaq, from the collections of the Museum of Cultural History, are included in the portal.
A pdf version of Garth H Taylor's book "Netsilik Eskimo Material Culture. The Roald Amundsen collection from King William Island" from 1974 is made available here with kind permission from the author.
The National Library of Norway has kindly let us link to their online volumes of Roald Amundsen's books.
This is a project of collaboration and sharing. A lot of work has been invested, in Gjoa Haven and in Oslo, in documenting, updating and improving the information presented on these pages. There is still much to be done, and we sincerely so much appreciate any assistance users might be willing and able to contribute.
If you would like to share knowledge, or help us correct mistakes, please do not hesitate to comment, or contact us at