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1. History and overview over the Evje og Hornnes geomuseum, Fennefoss

Last Updated: 13th Feb 2012

By The Evje og Hornnes geomuseum, Fennefoss


The Evje of Hornnes geomuseum, Fennefoss - History and overview


The Fennefoss farm is one of the oldest settlements in the municipality, with roots dating back to the Middle Ages. Exactly when people started living here is uncertain, but the fundaments of the current building date back from early 16-th century.

The farm has later been in use as a religious center for the Haugerianen, it has been a police station, a pension, a second hand shop and probably more.

Since 1975 the building has been in use as museum, first as folkloristic museum, but later more and more as mineralogical/geological museum.

This is hardly surprising, considering the enormous mineral wealth in the district.


Sporadic iron mining commenced probably already in the early middle ages, though no solid documentation is at my disposal at this moment.

Relatively rich copper ores were discoverd at the Mykleåsen sometime around 1700 and for a period copper ore was transported to a melter nearby (Åraksbø).

The industrial revolution didn’t pass by unnoticed in Norway too, and the demand for especially nickel resulted in widespreadth prospecting, resulting in the discovery of rich nickel ores at Mykleåsen. This was to become the Flåt nickel mine, during a period the largest in its kind in Europe and subject of a seperate article.

The mining of nickel went with ups and downs, but continued till the end of the second world war, when the rich ore zones were basically exhausted.

The extraction of nickel from the ore depends on the use of quartz as flux and (slag former). Fortunately enough pegmatite veins rich in quartz were known to occur nearby the nickel mine. Several quarries yielded the quartz necessary for the local melter at the Fennefoss waterfall.

Together with the quartz occurred abundant feldspar of high purity, but it took about two decades before a railroad track to Kristiansand made transportation profitable.

Export of the feldpar to Germany, Holland, England and other european countries became a profitable business, resulting in a large number of new feldpar quarries. Many of the quarries were operated periodically, with large scale mining only in a few of them.
During the mining of quartz and feldpar, and to some extent mice too, many finds of accessory minerals were made that attracted the attention of geologists. Rich specimens and suberp crystals of many rare species were found here.

Some of the minerals turned out to be very interesting for research purposes in a time when other sources were yet to be discovered.
Beryl, REE-containing minerals, uranium-ore and thortveitite have been mined sporadically in some of the quarries. Many good finds have been made during the about 100 years of activity in the pegmatite quarries.


Not only geologists became interested in the mineral richness of the district, but also amateur geologists and hobby collectors came in large numbers to try their luck and find some nice crystals or a piece of some exotic mineral.

Among the local collectors, especially Kristen Dale, Theodor Gautestad and Odd S.H. Hansen have been important for the development of the geological interest in the district and the preservation of specimens.


In 1988 the municipality bought the inventory of Theodor Gautestad’s shop and collection with the intention to display the minerals in the museum.

In 1995 the museum was enabled to buy the Kristen Dale collection.

Finally, the Odd S.H. Hansen collection, a collection consisting out of thumbnails and small cabinets mounted in Jousi boxes was acquired around 1999.

The museum had in the meantime built up a considerable collection of both local minerals and specimens from the rest of the country.


The mineral collections occupy just over 50% of the total display areal in the building, which is not nearly enough for such a comprehensive collection.

The showcases are still overcrowded, even though I removed about 40% of the specimens during a first inventarisation and registration of the collection during 2000-2005.

Due to new state regulations regarding subsidies for museums, the municipality was in 2005 forced to hand over responsibility for the museum to the larger Setesdalsmuseet, a museum focussed on documenting the culture and traditions of the Setesdal.

Plans to build a new museum a few years ago, at the premisses of the Flåt nickel mine did not get the necessary support of the municipality and are most likely no longer viable.

From 2005 on initiatives were taken to upgrade and modernize the displays. Insufficient funding and poor working conditions have made this project difficult and troublesome.

The situation in 2012 is one of stagnation, but there might still be hope that one day the collections of the Evje og Hornnes geomuseum can be developed to their full potential.


1) The main collection of the municipality, a systematical collection with norwegian minerals only. This collection has been built up by local people, among which Mr. Sigmund Monen was a central factor. He raised money for the acquisition of new samples whenever possible.

2) The Theodor Gautestad collection can be divided in a norwegian and a foreign section. Gautestad was a mineral trader in the best sense of the word, and many foreign collectors visited his shop to buy or swap samples from the local quarries. That way he built up a collection of foreign minerals that fill up one of the showcases at the museum. In another showcase some of the hightlights of his collection are at display.

3) The Kristen Dale collection is a geographical collection, with samples from many of the most important localities in in Norway. The minerals are grouped after the county where they were found. The Dale collection is displayed at the third floor in the museum in 17 showcases.

4) The Odd S. H. Hansen collection is displayed in two showcases in the same room as the Theodor Gautestad collection. All the samples are mounted in plastic Jousi boxes with a matrix size of about 1x1cm up to 8x8 cm.

5) A display on the work and life of Pierre and Md. Curie. The museum is the proud owner of an electroscope manufactued either by Pierre Curie or after his design by one of his assistents. The electroscope was a gift to a norwegian physicist who donated radioactive samples to the Curie’s. In this display several aspects of the Curie’s, the discovery of radium and polonium and radioactivity are shown.

6) Thematical displays
-mainly based on material from the municipal collections and supplemented by relevant
items that illustrate the use and significance of minerals.

6a) Mica – an excellent insulator
6b) The Rare Eart Elements
6c) Quartz – the white gold of the computer age
6d) Beryl/beryllium – a hightech mineral
6e) Nickel – a mean and tough metal
6f) The geology of the South of Norway
6g) The geology of the Evje-Iveland pegmatite district
6h) Norwegian gemstones

7) The Flåt nickel mine – a historical display with many nice old pictures and mining tools. Unfortunately this display is still under construction, and is not expected to be finished soon.

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