Edvard Munch, Viking ships, ‘ARLIS dinosaurs’ and a way forward

I recently took a short break in Oslo to coincide with the ARLIS Norden Annual Conference ‘Digitisation in Art Libraries and Art and Cultural Heritage Museums’ (9-11 June 2016), not so much because of the theme, but because the occasion marked the 30th anniversary of the founding of ARLIS Norden. I was able to wish delegates ‘Happy Anniversary’ greetings on behalf of ARLIS/UK & Ireland.  The conference was held in the beautiful surroundings of Oslo University.  Presentations looked at various digitisation projects in a variety of institutions in Norway and Denmark including 3D scanning of findings from the Oseberg ship burial in the Museum of Cultural History, Digitisation of the Picture Collections at the National Library of Norway and e-Munch at the Munchmuseet.

The annual general meeting, which takes place during the conference, grappled with many of the issues, such as falling membership, which our own Membership Working Group is looking into. A highlight was a visit to the splendid University Aula (Great Hall) to see the Munch murals. At a Reception hosted by the National Museum of Art delegates we were able not only to hear about plans for a new building but to look out of the windows onto the building site where work is well under way.

I was very fortunate on first becoming a member of ARLIS/UK & Ireland to visit Stockholm and Helsinki on study visits hosted by ARLIS Norden. This time, I didn’t get to see anyone I had met on my earlier visits which made me wonder if I am turning into one of the ‘ARLIS dinosaurs’ referred to in the keynote presentation on the history of ARLIS Norden. The same presentation by the way highlighted the pioneering work of Art Librarians in Britain in fostering national and international cooperation. Whether I am a dinosaur or not, the intervening Brexit has made me even more sure of the important role organisations such as ARLIS/UK & Ireland have to play in developing international relationships with our professional colleagues throughout the world any way we can, not least through attending each other’s conferences.

David Pulford, Chair ARLIS/UK & Ireland