Kvinesdal Council was bequeathed a furnished house in Prestegarden in Kvinesdal from Judih Oesteboe. She was the daughter of Anna Mydland, a well-known trader in Kvinesdal during the years of 1930-40. Mrs Oesteboe's conditions to the council were that the house should be used as an emigration centre/museum depicting the emigration between Kvinesdal and the United States of America.
In 2003, the company Viking Lodge- Sons of Norway applied to the council to manage and run the estate as an emigration museum. The council approved the application and the chief officer was granted authority to create an agreement for the running and disposal of the estate together with Viking Lodge.
The museum's aim.
The Lister region consists of the following 6 councils situated furthest west in the Vest Agder County: Flekkefjord, Kvinesdal, Farsund and Lyngdal. All these councils experienced a heavy emigration to the United States of America, especially from the end of the Second World War up until the 1970s. This was the reason it was decided to call the museum Lister Emigrant Museum and the purpose is to preserve the emigration history from these 6 councils, and to:
- Inform visitors of the emigration history from the Lister region that took place between 1850 – 1970, highlighting the period from the end of the Second World War up until the mid-1970s.
- Collect and exhibit objects, letters, photos, documents and other relevant material that would help to highlight how much the emigration meant for the people and the community.
- Preserve objects and knowledge from this period that would otherwise stand the risk of disappearing during the next generations.
School children of all ages.
Local people in Southern Norway.
Norwegian and foreign visitors.
Creating the exhibition.
In order to ensure that the exhibition should be as interesting and informative as possible to the visitors, it was decided to build the exhibition around the following main subjects:
General information regarding the emigration.
When did it begin? When did it end? How many people emigrated from the Lister region? Where did they settle? What was the effect from the emigration on the region?
Exhibited are written information, photographs and newspaper articles.
The journey to America.
What paperwork was required to be completed before the journey could begin? Which mode of travel was used? How were the emigrants received on arrival?
These questions have been answered using informative text together with photographs, documents and objects that explains the journey made by passenger ship and jumbo jet. Old travel trunks, travel bags, wooden food carriers which held the traditional flat bread, butter and cured ham brought onboard the passenger ships by the first emigrants for the long journey. Information and photos from Ellis Island are also shown.
The emigrants at work.
Which were the most common work places for the emigrants?
In addition to written information the exhibition shows photographs of the emigrants at farm work, carpentry, floor laying, fishing and gold mining. Tools, work clothes and other objects are displayed.
The emigrants in their new homes.
The museum visitors can walk into an apartment that has been recreated to show how a traditional emigrant apartment in Brooklyn looked during the 1950-60s.
The emigrants in their spare time.
What activities did they fill their spare time with?
Written information is used in addition to photographs showing meetings and get-togethers at clubs and associations. Photos from important celebrations such as the Norwegian National Day showing parades and festive gatherings. Party clothes from the era are also exhibited.
The emigrants at war.
How many of the emigrants participated in various wars, from the Civil War through to the Vietnam War?
Photographs and written information exhibited. Uniforms, weapons and other military effects are displayed together with relevant objects from this time.