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But are the people of Bergen really that smart?

There was long considerable doubt about just that. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the people of Bergen had very little confidence when it came to the world of knowledge. They were without question an enterprising and energetic people – sharp and quick-witted – but unfortunately with little capacity for long and deep thinking. Indeed, one of the city's most famous sons, Ludvig Holberg, said that learning had not exactly 'flourished' in Bergen, where everything was about fish and money.

A few years later, the poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven ridiculed his birthplace along pretty much the same lines:

No one asks about the cold or heat,
or about spiritual life and the rights of man:
heart and mind are a counting frame,
where fish is the name of the game.

Nonetheless, this is where it happened!

In the late evening of 28 February 1873, at Lungegård hospital on a hilltop at Kalfaret. A huge scientific breakthrough was made, an event of global proportions! The young doctor Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen, huddled over his new microscope, spotted the bacterium that causes leprosy. The ancient riddle of leprosy was about to be solved! Armauer Hansen, who grew up right outside these windows, became more famous than almost any other Norwegian in history.

This year we mark the 150th anniversary of his discovery and everything that has changed around us. The city of trade has long become a city of knowledge, and the locals have gained more confidence – including as scientists! Inspired by Armauer Hansen, Bymuseet i Bergen has taken a look back over 750 years of city history and it's not nearly as bleak as Holberg and Welhaven would have it. We have chosen a few moments and different figures from the city's history, some of its brightest luminaries, both the celebrated and the less well known. Like Armauer Hansen, they also went out into the world in search of cutting-edge knowledge – before returning to Bergen and achieving great things.

Welcome to an exhibition that will make you smarter!

Exhibition period 28. October 2023 - 10. March 2024.

Last Updated: 01/15/2024

Source: Visit Bergen

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