Data from around the world now preserved for 1000 years in the Arctic

The Arctic World Archive (AWA), a secure vault of world memory in the far arctic north, has again opened it’s doors to new memories and collections.

In the midst of the global pandemic, the participants had new sense of purpose in ensuring cultural heritage and valuable information is protected and accessible in the future.

Depositors included Norwegian heritage institutions, art collectors, historians and business representatives, with many others joining virtually from around the world.

The event was also attended by the Hungarian Ambassador to Norway and the Russian Consulate in Barentsburg.

AWA is a secure data vault holding a valuable collection of world memory, set in one of the most geographically, climatically and politically stable places in the world. Data is stored on unique long-term archival technology, developed by Piql AS, designed to last for centuries with guaranteed future accessibility.

Armed with their chosen data, the grouped gathered metres into the decommissioned coal mine and placed their data, on reels of piqlFilm, into the vault.

A ceremony, streamed for virtual participants was held to mark the importance of storing these items for the benefit of future generations.

Speaking at the event,‚ÄĮPiql‚Äôs‚ÄĮManaging Director, Rune‚ÄĮBjerkestrand, welcomed the new deposits‚ÄĮand the¬†importance they hold for world memory.

‚ÄėThe¬†data¬†you have deposited today¬†holds significance for communities around the world. Choosing to preserve these items and ensuring they will never be forgotten is passing on value to future generations,‚Äô he said.

‚ÄėThe data you have deposited today holds significance for communities around the world. Choosing to preserve these items and ensuring they will never be forgotten is passing on value to future generations,‚Äô he said.

Rune Bjerkestrand, Managing Director of Piql

New AWA deposits

Norwegian Armed Forces Museum

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum made its second deposit with a collection of photographs from Luftfartsmuseet, Forsvarsmuseet and Hjemmefrontsmuseet.

These holdings have been extended through a new period of digitisation since the last deposit in AWA. The museum holds an impressive and growing photo collection that captures the dramatic development of Norwegian aircraft from pre to post war. One of the highlights of the collection is the very interesting collections from the Norwegian Resistance Museum, one of the best sources of documentation in the country of the work done against the invasion during WWII.


Natural History Museum¬†‚Äď Britney fossil

Also making its second AWA deposit, the Natural History Museum chose to preserve a ‚Äėlocal‚Äô ‚Äď the data from¬†Ophthalmothule¬†Cryostea, dubbed ‚ÄėBritney‚Äô, a 150-million-year-old fossil of a lizard like animal that was found on a neighbouring mountain in 2012.

This find was incredibly important as it is the only one of this type of plesiosaurs in the world with a preserved skull, giving much more insight into the creature.


Digital Art Collection of Sean Snyder

US artist Sean Snyder, working with Art curator Ellef Prestsæter, deposited a special digital art collection. Sean Snyder is a progressive modern artist, focused on digital art and preservation. The collection will be exhibited at the Longyearbyen Library, prior to the deposit. For the artist, the depositing of data plays a crucial and integral role in his current exhibition project. The art project is in collaboration with the North Norwegian Art Museum and Guttormsgaard’s archive.


The Saga Heritage Foundation¬†‚ÄstFlat√łyabok

The Saga Heritage Foundation deposited¬†the¬†Flat√łyabok, one of the most important¬†Icelandic and Nordic manuscripts¬†from the¬†Middle Ages. A non-profit foundation, the Saga Heritage Foundation was established to work for the preservation and future access of the Norse cultural heritage in its broadest sense. The content of this saga is of great importance to¬†Norway‚Äôs and Iceland‚Äôs history.


Film Director, Hans¬†Petter¬†Moland ‚ÄstZero Kelvin motion picture

The renowned Norwegian Director, Hans¬†Petter¬†Moland deposited¬†a classic Norwegian film Zero Kelvin (Kj√¶rlighetens¬†Kj√łtere), filmed on Svalbard in 25 years ago. The film stars Stellan Skarsg√•rd, Bj√łrn Sundqvist, Gard¬†Eidsvold¬†and Camilla Martens and was shown during¬†Solfestuka¬†festival in Longyearbyen earlier this year.


Tronrud Engineering¬†‚Äď corporate history

Tronrud Engineering, one of the great stories of Norwegian industrial development, deposited its core corporate history, centred around a photo collection going back to the inception of the company in the 1970s. The collection shows the impressive development of the company from its early days to the evolvement as a major international company at the forefront of innovation in design and manufacturing delivering some of the most advanced automation solutions in the market. Now based at Eggemoen, an industrial site including their own landing strip for planes to arrive and take off, the deposits captures the complete history of how this development came to place from through the decades.


National Sz√©ch√©nyi¬†Library (National Library of Hungary)¬†‚ÄstHungarian cultural heritage

Representing the first Hungarian deposit, The National Library of Hungary deposited a selection of manuscripts representing different eras, along with corvinas of King Matthias, a collection of historic maps, and graphic posters from 1800s and 1900s.

This collection captures many different forms of cultural heritage, representing a number of eras, providing a colorful picture of Hungary’s culture and history.

Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and Ministry of Culture in India¬†‚Äď Durga¬†Saptashati¬†Manuscripts

Faciliated by Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) and the Ministry of Culture in India, the Durga Saptashati Manuscripts were deposited, representing a core pillar of the Hindu culture and faith. These precious religious texts describing the Goddess as the supreme power and creator of the universe have now been digitally preserved for eternity. Dating back to between 400 and 600 C.E, the Durga Saptashati (also known as the Devi Mahatmya) is one of the earliest texts from the Hindu traditions that describe the feminine aspect of God.


Sapio Analytics ‚ÄstAncient Indian and Hindu paintings

After the initiation of preservation of paintings on the UNESCO world heritage site, Ajanta Caves, more restored artworks from ancient India, signifying a new tradition of art that gave birth to modern beliefs, were deposited. This second deposit from Sapio Analytics, contained the earliest surviving paintings of the Hindu faith, restored from Badami Caves in Karnataka (India), and ancient paintings from the mysterious and elegant Brihadeesvara temple.


Spirit wrestler productions¬†‚ÄstCultural Heritage of the¬†Saskatchewan Doukhobor

Representing the first Canadian deposit, the cultural heritage of the Saskatchewan Doukhobor was deposited by Spirit wrestler productions.

The Doukhobor community, among the first settlers in Saskatchewan, are today almost all but gone in Canada. In 2016, through a collaboration between the Western Development Museum, Spirit Wrestler Productions, and the University of Saskatchewan, a project to preserve the oral history and spiritual traditions the Saskatchewan Doukhobor was initiated. The project, Saskatchewan Doukhobor Living Book, features a documentary film and an immersive audio/visual installation. The main purpose of this project was to make sure that the Doukhobors community unique culture, religious beliefs, traditions, and history would be preserved for future generations, which is the mission of AWA.

They decided to preserve the work of the documentary film ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve Concluded Our Assembly‚ÄĚ, Doukhobor songs and recording sessions at the Blaine Lake Doukhobor Prayer Home where they recorded both audio and video prayer service as it is practiced by Saskatchewan Doukhobors today.


Artemis Art ‚Äď Emerging art¬†from Malaysia

Representing the first Malaysian contribution, this deposit celebrates South-East Asian’s vibrant art culture as seen through the eyes of emerging artists. This deposit was made possible by U.C. Loh and S. Jamal Al-Idrus, co-founders of Malaysia’s Artemis Art Gallery, who chose a number of pieces from their private art collection. Artists include:

  • Ajim Juxta, Michael Chuah and¬†Umibaizurah¬†Mahir from Malaysia
  • Erica¬†Hestu¬†Wahyuni and Gabriel Aries¬†Setiadi¬†from Indonesia,
  • Charlie Co and¬†Yeokaa¬†from Philippines
  • Chihiro Nakahara from Japan; and,
  • Li Wei and Liu¬†Zhiyin¬†from China


Progettali¬†Srl ‚ÄstGlobal photographic¬†collection

A unique historic photographic collection was deposited by Progettali, a private photographic archive. The collection features photos from Europe Africa, Far East, Japan, China and America. It is a quite complete collection that make the set very valuable from an antropological, entographic, cultural and historical point of view. These include stereo images, daguerrereotypes (images on silver plates) and albumen prints.

See also, the Arctic World Archive website.