Making a collection
In order to establish an museum you need a certain amount of what it is you wish to exhibit, and the founder Rune Arnhoff is a collector by nature. Even as a child, he started collecting napkins, then later coins, stamps and matchboxes. He later became more interested in books, and especially the Bible. - I remember the first time I looked through a Bible from the 16th century. It was a great experience, one I wished for more people to have, says Rune.
Hans Beckhaug had over many years built up a unique collection of over 1600 Bibles. In 2008, the Norwegian Bible Society was offered the chance to buy it but chose not to finance such an investment. As a result, Jan Olaf Tønnevold, a shipowner from the Southern coast of Norway and council member of the Bible Society through many years, bought the collection himself.
Collaboration with Tønnevold
Rune Arnhoff and Jan Olav Tønnevold met somewhat by coincidence during the spring of 2016. The shipowner talked about his collection, and Rune showed an immediate interest in it. Arnhoff and Tønnevold joined forces, and their collaboration still bears fruit today. Tønnevold wished to create greater interest in the Bible and had thought about finding a more permanent place to exhibit the collection for a long time. The two of them started playing with the thought of a museum for their joint collection, which now held over 3000 bibles. Thus, the Nordic Bible Museum was organised as a foundation, with Arnhoff as CEO and Tønnevold as one of the council members.
Location, location, location
They started looking for a suitable location for their exhibition, and after some time spent hunting, they could finally open the doors of the Nordic Bible Museum in the middle Kvadraturen, a square in between the main street Karl Johan and the Akershus fortress. - Right across the street is one of the oldest buildings in Oslo, built two years after the great fire in 1624. It is said that King Christian IV himself pointed out this very area as the perfect place to rebuild the city center after the fire. So, our location is quite central when it comes to history, says Rune.
The Nordic Bible museum opened for the first time on 31st. May 2018 and has had a great start to its operations. The business is run and financed through voluntary work, private investments and gifts. A lot of the volunteers have backgrounds in art and culture or have relevant experience from other museums or libraries. Several also have higher education that is relevant to the museum.
Today, we can offer a journey back in time; to the first Bibles that were written on paper or parchment, all the way to the digital Bibles of our age. This museum offers a unique chance to dive deep into the history of Nordic Bibles.