The Gallery and Longyearbyen Arts & Crafts Centre is in the same building, situated in Nybyen. Galleri Svalbard houses both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, amongst them the Kåre Tveter collection and the Svalbard collection. The shop includes a book and gift section with various art books, general Svalbard literature, and a growing range of design products. Hot drinks and refreshments are offered in Art Café. In the arts & crafts centre, local artisans rent studios and exhibit their works.
The Svalbard Collection
The collection consists of books, ancient maps and coupons of payment issued by the various mining companies who were once established on the archipelago. The oldest map in the collection is from 1570. Svalbard is not mentioned until the map published in 1598 based on Willem Barentsz’ notes after the discovery of Svalbard in 1596. In addition to the historical documentary value, these maps may also be considered art works in their own right. They are etchings, printed from copper plates, and then hand colored.
The book collection holds 1300 titles. Many of these are historical documents and have considerable antiquarian value. The books and maps were acquired by former office manager in Store Norske, Henrik Varming, who was born and grew up on Svalbard.
The value coupons are from the time when the mining companies issued their own “money” for use among the workers, and they were only valid on Svalbard. They were collected by former miner, Ingvald Johansen, and are dated 1911 – 1979. Store Norske actually had this arrangement until December 31st 1979. Every year new editions were issued, and they were only valid for the current season, after which they were destroyed.
The Tveter Collection
The painter Kåre Tveter (b. 1922) had already established himself as one of our foremost depictors of the nordic light when he was first invited to Svalbard in 1982. The pictures he later painted based on the inspiration from his many trips to Svalbard still came to represent the major milestone in his artistic career. Of all the artists who have depicted the various themes of Svalbard throughout the years, Tveter’s interpretations of the light is perhaps what more than anything else has given Svalbard its position as motive in pictorial art.
In 1995 the Kåre Tveter Collection was established, and was the cornerstone among the exhibitions in Galleri Svalbard. By the opening of the gallery, his images have found their natural place in a permanent collection in Longyear City.