The Kon-Tiki Museum
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Kon-Tiki - short history

Kon-Tiki - short history

Kon-Tiki - short history

Kon-Tiki Oscar 1951 - 2011 - The importance of an Oscar!
This year it will be 60 years since Thor Heyerdahl won the Oscar for best documentary for the film of the Kon-Tiki expedition. The film was the catalyst behind Thor Heyerdahl's worldwide fame.

Thanks to the film, the book about the expedition became a bestseller around the world. It has been translated in 70 languages and millions of copies have been sold. This gave Thor Heyerdahl the chance to carry out new expeditions and he was always accompanied by a film camera.
In this exhibition the Kon-Tiki Museum wants to show how important film was in making and keeping Thor Heyerdahl world famous.

The exhibition also shows how an Oscar in 1951 provided the foundation for a totally new pop culture involving music, restaurants and fashion. Tiki pop culture! And the Kon-Tiki story continues. A new feature film is now on the horizon with one of the biggest budgets in Norwegian history. It will be directed by the people behind Max Manus and produced by Aage Aaberge and Jeremy Thomas.

The exhibition will also follow the making of the new "Kon-Tiki" feature film with updated pictures and clips. The exhibition will run at the Kon-Tiki Museum until 1 October 2011.


Paradise Lost by Tor Eigeland unntil 8.02.2011

The Marsh Arabs. The vanished culture.

New exhibition by photographer Tor Eigeland. Photos from South and East Iraq taken in 1967

The largest wetlands in the Middle East, or rather what is left of them, lie in the south of Iraq where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers meet.

The great Al-Hawizeh marsh used to pretty much fill the triangle formed by the cities of Basra, Nasiriyah and Amara, where the eastern reaches of the marsh stretch over the border into Iran.

The old wetlands were one of the world's most important freshwater ecosystems.

Environmental catastrophe

In 1988, the Iraqi authorities approved a regional development plan which involved draining the entire marsh region.

A number of bodies have in recent years published reports on and analyses of what is happening to the water system. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has presented satellite images that unambiguously reveal the development that has taken place over a 30 year period, and especially rapidly since 1991: South Iraq's wetlands are the victim of an ecological catastrophe that in scope and pace can be compared to the drying out of the Aral Sea in Central Asia and the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Where photos from as late as 1993 show dense vegetation, there is now lifeless land.

A former paradise

The immense wetland labyrinth of waterways was home to a people called the Ma’dān, or Marsh Arabs, for more than 5,000 years. They can trace their culture back to the earliest era of humankind's known history, to the Sumerians and Babylonians, more than 3,000 years before Christ, further back in time than ancient Egypt. And the Ma’dān people have probably lived between these rivers since long before then. According to their own mythology they came into the world 6,000-7,000 years ago. The Marsh Arabs have lived in a pact with nature and their own traditions. Their ancient culture is based on the local berdi reed, which is used to make their floating houses and boats.

The Marsh Arabs live in arched houses made of reeds that are 6 metres long, 2 metres wide and around 3 metres tall. Many keep tame water buffalo and live on small artificial islands built of reeds in the marshes. The Marsh Arabs also grow rice, barley and wheat.

The culture was introduced to the rest of the world by Wilfred Thesiger who lived in the region at the end of the 1950s (The Marsh Arabs, 1964). The recognised Norwegian author and photographer Tor Eigland visited the region in 1962 and documented the Ma’dān culture photographically. Thor Heyerdahl also wrote about the Marsh Arabs in his book The Tigris Expedition: In Search of Our Beginnings (1978). The Marsh Arab's knowledge about using reeds as a building material enabled Heyerdahl to build the largest reed boat in 3,000 years and sail it from the mouth of the River Tigris, via Pakistan, to the mouth of the Red Sea.

Photographer Tor Eigeland

Tor Eigeland was educated in Norway, at McGill University, Canada, the University of the Americas in Mexico and the School of Photojournalism of the University of Miami. Eigeland is a proficient linguist and speaks Arabic, among other languages. As an author and photographer Eigeland has published a number of books. He has also been published in newspapers and magazines such as Fortune, Time, Newsweek, Time-Life Books, Reader's Digest, Natural History, Harpers & Queen, The Smithsonian, Rutas Del Mundo, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section, Southern Accents, Entrée and Saudi Aramco World.

Eigeland has collaborated as a writer and photographer on a number of books, among others 11 for the National Geographic Society."

The exhibition opened 8. October by photographer Tor Eigeland and the Kon-Tiki Museum's curator, Reidar Solsvik.
End of exhibition 8. February 2011.

The Marsh Arabs live in arched houses made of reeds that are 6 metres long, 2 metres wide and around 3 metres tall. Many keep tame water buffalo and live on small artificial islands built of reeds in the marshes. The Marsh Arabs also grow rice, barley and wheat.


New exhibition at The Kon-Tiki Museum from 28.04.2010- 28.09.2010. Focus on Thor Heyerdahls work against pollution at sea.

40 years after Thor Heyerdahl and his international crew crossed the Atlantic the Kon-Tiki Museum show what impact Heyerdahl had on the work against pollution at sea.

Sea film where he talks about the pollution in the Atlantic. The film is a short version of a film which will be shown in the exhibition.

A small book about Thor Heyerdahl and his work against pollution is sold in the shop. Price NOK 25,- Olav Heyerdahl, the grand son of Thor Heyerdahl is taking part in The Plastiki expedition. Focus on pollution at sea in the wake of Kon-Tiki. The Plastiki is allso part of the exhibition. Reed more.

This letter was sent by Thor Heyerdahl to the UN. Read the letter.

The Tiki Pop Culture exhibition


Thor Heyerdahl world famous Kon-Tiki expeditions, which attempted to show that people had used the world's oceans as important means of communication as early as many thousands of years ago, thrilled an entire world and irritated many researchers.

The Kon-Tiki expedition is probably the best known of these in the four corners of the world. The book about the expedition has been translated into more than 70 languages over the years, thanks in large part to the film of the expedition winning an Oscar in 1951.

A less discussed result of the Kon-Tiki expedition was the so-called Tiki trend or Tiki Pop Culture.

The Tiki trend took off when American soldiers arrived home from the Pacific Ocean and brought with them souvenirs and tastes from Hawaii and other islands in the region. Tiki bars serving drinks that used pineapple and rum as the main ingredients were especially popular, as were Tiki restaurants that served food and had interiors inspired by the southern ocean.

The Kon-Tiki expedition and the popularity the book and film attained helped to spread the Tiki phenomenon in America and to other countries.

When Heyerdahl later visited Easter Island his film and book, Aku-Aku, helped to revitalise this subculture. This also spread to No

rway where for many years the Kon-Tiki restaurant in Sjølyst, Oslo presented this culture and where in more recent times the Aku Aku bar in Grünerløkka, Oslo has picked up the baton from the 1940s and 1960s and run with it.

The Tiki Pop Culure exhibition at the Kon-Tiki Museum shows how this phenomenon arose and spread around the world

The Tiki Pop Culture - see film about The phenomen and about the exhibition

Jan Vardøen at Aku Aku Tiki bar tells the story about The Tiki Pop Culture. Background Music by Beat Tornados who played live at The Kon-Tiki Museum in april 2009.

Film and photo from The Kon-tiki Museum, including color film from The Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947. Allso film from probably the most identic Tiki bar in Norway - The Aku Aku Tiki bar in Oslo.

The famous under water phographer Noam Kortler had his exhibition "Treasures of the Sea" at The Kon-Tiki Museum in February 2009. More about the exhibit here

Under water paintings by artist Geir Børresen

Painting under water
The Kon-Tiki Museum from 30. november 2008 - 31.01.2009. Artist Geir Børresen make paintings in water and above the surface.
The paintins that will be exhibited at The Kon-Tiki Museum this winter, is for sale


A dream since I began diving in 1961, the same time as I started at the National College of Art and Design (SHK). My dream was renewed when I spent three summers at Kalmar Läns Museum excavating a sunken ship, “Kronan”, off Öland off the southeast coast of Sweden. Marine archaeology.

Among the things we had to be able to do on the seabed 27 metres down was draw. These were black and white pencil drawings.

I then understood that I simply had to add colour to the drawings. I wanted to paint underwater. Sitting on the seabed and drawing is a wonderful feeling.

Thus began the experiments in Eilat in the Red Sea. Fantastically coloured fish. Coral. Bright. Warm.
Had to weld special frames. Sew canvases into the frames. Oil paint pressed into film boxes. It worked! Naïve, quick strokes were painted on the canvas with palette knives and nails while the fish swam inquisitively around us.
I now paint above water using the same technique. With acryl. I’m continuing to experiment. I have also tried brushes - Geir Børresen 31.11.08

“Painting under water”


A great love for water, at sea

Have previously experimented with humour underwater.

Has seriousness caught up with me? No I still play under and above water.

Painting paintings at a depth of 20 metres? Deep Water Painting. Shallow Water Painting.

Geir Børresen 30.11.08

See short movie about the exhibition - click here