University Museum of Bergen

Welcome to the Micro World: Pollen – so small – so great

The new, permanent exhibition "Pollen – so small – so great" at the Natural History Collections was opened to the public on Sunday 30 November. We invite you to peer into a fascinating micro world that is otherwise only visible through a microscope.

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Pollen grains are extremely small, but in this exhibition they have been magnified and made accessible to us with the help of large 3-dimensional models and images. The exhibition is a new permanent exhibition offered at the Natural History Collections.


Pollen that tell the story about Bryggen (The Wharf)

The pollen grains can be stored for thousands of years if kept in an oxygen-free environment. They build up, layer upon layer, in bogs and at the bottom of lakes thus creating a historical archive the researchers literally can dig (bury) themselves into.

The analysis of pollen from lake sediments and bogs is the single, most important source of knowledge about past vegetation. It tells us something about climate development and human activity. The main features of the development in West Norway’s vegetation from the end of the Ice Age and up to the present are presented in the exhibition. Among the things that were found on Bryggen are pollen grains of exotic plants not common during the Early Middle Ages. This must be a result of importation and can tell us something about when the Bergen population started trade (trading) with Europe.

Professor Knut Fægri (1909-2001) of Bergen Museum and the University of Bergen was one of the pioneers in the development of the pollen analysis during the 1930s and the 1940s. Today, too, the University of Bergen has the largest academic environment in this field in Norway. Associate Professor Kari Loe Hjelle at Bergen Museum has been the expert advisor and driving force for the exhibition.


A Beautiful Exhibition

The exhibition is not only exciting, but also spectacular and beautiful. It is a combination of experience and learning. It consists of large photographs, taken from an electron microscope, illustrations, and models. One of these models is large enough to enter into. The models have been made by the artists Marta Nerhus ( string and paper) and Æsa Bjørk Torsteinsdottir (glass).


The project management has been shared between exhibition architect Turid Mellemstrand and expert advisor Kari Hjelle. Exhibition architect Sonya Reeve has also contributed to the project. The photographs used in the exhibition have been taken by Jan Berge and the adaptation of photographs and illustrations have been carried out by Beate Helle.