Looking down on the café terrace and the fjord below.

Looking down on the café terrace and the fjord below.

The old church and the new museum.

Cutting between the rock and the museum.

Long section. Entrance facing the church to the right.

Alstahaug municipality in Nordland county is known for its magnificent landscape, bordered by the mountain range ”The Seven Sisters” on one side and on the other 1200 islands and skerries, which have given it the name “kingdom of a thousand islands”. The Petter Dass Museum is situated in the grounds of a long-established church 20 kilometres from the town of Sandnessjøen. The site consists of a church, a churchyard, a parsonage and several other buildings including the original museum, which was opened in 1966. This has now been extended by a new museum building and parking facilities that were designed by Snøhetta in 2007. The parsonage was the home of the Norwegian poet Petter Dass, who was parson of Alstahaug from 1689 to 1707, although the present 18th-century parsonage was built some years later. The complex and its surroundings are a popular recreational area for both tourists and the local population, and the museum is a national documentation and resource centre based on Petter Dass and his significant position in Norwegian and Nordic cultural history. Snøhetta was responsible for the project from 2001 until its completion. The aim was to design a new museum building, a landscape plan for the surrounding site, parking facilities and a service building. During the process the architect rejected the site proposed by the client on the grounds that building a new museum there would deflect attention away from the historic surroundings. Instead a cut was made in the rocky landscape west of the church and a freestanding building constructed between the two wire-cut rock walls. The new museum thus respects the historic site and serves as a visual expression of the historical span between the date when the church was built and the present.

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