Digitizing slide images from the last century

In late 2021, Historical Archive of Norwegian Landscape Architecture (ANLA) was awarded the status of “NMBU’s strategic research infrastructure”, thanks to the generous support of various European and national organizations for our application, including Network of European Landscape architecture Archives (NELA), Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway, National Museum of Norway, ICOMOS Norway, and other Norwegian universities. This status gives us the opportunity to apply for additional funding. In February 2022, the Archive received 550.000,- Norwegian kroners from the University and the Faculty, which enables us to follow up our work on different collections.

The Historical Archive of Norwegian Landscape Architecture contains not only drawings, plans and written documents, but also a large number of slides in almost all collections. One priority for the use of the new funding is to digitize the most important slide collections in the Archive.

Associate professor Lei Gao and Associate professor Bjørn Anders Fredriksen preparing slides for transport.

Several of our slide collections are of considerable values. For example, the oldest glass plate negatives from the beginning of the 1900s present the works of Pål Sæland and his contribution to cemetery planning in Norway at that time. In the collection of historic parks and gardens of Norway, there is a big set of slides by Magne Bruun, who took photographs of most historical parks and gardens in Norway in the 1950s and 60s and published some of them in his book Norske hager gjennom 1000 år. Many of the images became the only documentation of the sites that disappeared after Bruun’s visit. The collection of Gabrielsen and Grindaker focuses on contemporary gardens and urban parks in the 1960s and 70s, and the collection of Toralf Lønrusten from the same period is mainly on the developmentof hydropower stations and their integration with the Norwegian natural and cultural landscapes. The photographs and slides in these collections form a great supplement to the plans and project descriptions, giving visual impressions and valuable sources for studying changes of these sites in the past 60 years.

Apart from documenting projects and fieldworks, slides and photographs were also used in lectures and seminars. Before Internet and the digital era, teachers often used slides in lectures and presentations. Great efforts were made to develop collections of slides for all courses. The Department of Landscape Architecture had even a small library of slides, where teachers could search and borrow a particular motif or theme for their own courses. This library is still partially available in our archive. It gives an insight in past teaching topics, contents and methods.

Preserving these slide and photograph collections is time-consuming and costly, but very valuable for researchers, teachers, students, and other users of archival records. A slide library is an important infrastructure for searching and researching landscape architecture’s own history. Together with other archival records, they hold memories of various projects and sites, of the discipline, and of society in general.

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