Thor Heyerdahl Archives

World citizen, explorer, writer and scientist, Thor Heyerdahl’s legacy is an archive of unusual richness that encompasses photographs, films, manuscripts and documents of historical, artistic and cultural value. The archive is part of the Memory of the World, UNESCO’s list of immaterial cultural heritage.

The archive is divided into 2 sections: Contents of the document archive, Library.

October 4th 1989 Thor Heyerdahl donated his life work, including his manuscripts, document archive, and all photographs from his scientific expeditions to the Kon-Tiki Museum. Included in the donation were also his private book collection, a collection of editions of his own books, newspaper clippings, and film and audio tapes. The archive is divided into seven collections.

  1. Document archive
  2. Photography collection
  3. Library
  4. Book-editions collection
  5. Newspaper clippings
  6. Film and audio collection
  7. Thor Heyerdahl’s Film Collection at the Norwegian National Library

Thor Heyerdahl set up his office in a 16th century hunting tower on his property in the Italian village of Colla Micheri, from 1958-1988.

An explorer and writer

The Thor Heyerdahl Archive provides a unique insight into the life and work of the most famous explorer, adventurer and writer of non-fiction in the 20th century. His expeditions and books were a source of inspiration for generations of adventurers, scientists, and people all around the globe.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition (1947) was an amazing adventure of six young men pitted against the greatest force on earth – the Pacific Ocean. The book manuscript, photos and film documentary of the Kon-Tiki Expedition in 1947 had tremendous impact on history and popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s, making Kon-Tiki synonymous with adventure.

Heyerdahl’s maritime expeditions (Ra, Ra II, Tigris) and his archaeological projects produced iconic photos of modern exploration. Documenting these projects also resulted in unique photo and film material being collected from places soon after affected by modernisation. The communities on Easter Island and Rapa Iti in the Pacific Ocean (1955-56) and the Marsh Arab-culture in Iraq (1976-77) are examples of the modern transformation of local peoples, cultures, and places.

The document archive contains Heyerdahl’s original book manuscripts, papers, and speeches from 1947 to the end of his life. Correspondence and notes associated with organizing his world-famous expeditions, his research into prehistoric voyaging and contacts between cultures, and his fight against pollution of the ocean and a world with less borders makes up the rest of the archive.

A feature documentary from the Kon-Tiki voyage was released in 1951.

From the archive: Exhibition of photos and artefacts from the Fatuhiva expedition, Oslo 1939.

From the archive: Thor Heyerdahl's own design for a poster to his lecture "Our life as savages on the South Sea Island of Fatuhiva", 1938.

Contents of the document archive

Thor Heyerdahl’s document archive contains: book manuscripts, articles and speeches manuscripts, diaries, note books, letters, research notes and miscellaneous files. The collection has been sorted into 17 main categories. Sub-division is done by year and expeditions/names.

Download the complete list of categories of the Thor Heyerdahl Document Archive.

  1. Book manuscripts
  2. Article manuscripts
  3. Lectures and speeches
  4. Film Manuscripts
  5. Drawings
  6. Personal notes
  7. Diaries
  8. Expeditions
  9. Science and academics
  10. Environment
  11. Politics (One World, etc.)
  12. Prizes, awards, and honors
  13. Membership (associations, unions, clubs etc.)
  14. Correspondence
  15. Economy
  16. Books, pamphlets, etc. (not TH)
  17. Miscellaneous

Page 1, Chapter one, handwritten manuscript of the Kon-Tiki. On Raft Across the South Seas (1950), catalogued under category 1: Book Manuscripts, No.

Book manuscripts

The Thor Heyerdahl Archive contains twenty-three of Thor Heyerdahl’s book manuscripts, from Kon-Tiki. On Raft Across the South Seas, first published in Norwegian in 1948, to his last book Jakten på Odin [The Hunt for Odin] published the year before his passing. In the archives there are also three unpublished manuscripts.

Download a list of manuscripts.

Library

Collection of various editions of Thor Heyerdahl's own books

Thor Heyerdahl became an international best seller with Kon-Tiki. On Raft Across the South Seas (1950). To date it has been translated into 74 languages and published in a host of different editions. Many of his subsequent books have also enjoyed an international audience, and received widely publication and translation.

Thor Heyerdahl Book’s Edition Collection contains various language editions of his various books, particularly from the 1950s to the 1980s. Today, this collection is housed in the General Document Archive, while a part of it is on display in the Library exhibition.

A list of the editions of Kon-Tiki. On Raft Across the South Seas can be downloaded here.

"Kon-Tiki. On Raft Across the South Seas" (1950) has been published in more than 74 different language editions.

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ein Floss treibt über den Pazifik

    Verlag Ullstein, April 1949, 291 pp., 66 photos, 2 maps.

    Translator: Dr. Karl Jettmar.

    KTM-1983-010-0010

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ein Floss treibt über den Pazifik

    Verlag Ullstein, April 1949, 291 pp., 66 photos, 2 maps.

    Translator: Dr. Karl Jettmar.

    Note: “Not allowed to be sold in Switzerland”

    KTM-1983-010-0010

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ein Floss treibt über den Pazifik

    Verlag Ullstein, April 1949, 277 pp., 66 photos, 2 maps.

    Translator: Dr. Karl Jettmar.

    Note: “Not allowed to be sold in Switzerland”

    KTM-1983-010-0009

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ein Floss treibt über den Pazifik

    Verlag Ullstein, April 1949, 277 pp., 66 photos, 2 maps.

    Translator: Dr. Karl Jettmar.

    Note: “Not allowed to be sold in Switzerland”

    KTM-1983-010-0009

  • Kon-Tiki

    Svjetlost Sarajevo, 1960, 208 pp., 1 photo, 1 map.

    Translator: Vojin Dramuŝić.

    KTM-1983-010-0011

  • Kon-Tiki

    Svjetlost Sarajevo, 1961, 208 pp., 1 photo, 1 map.

    Translator: Vojin Dramuŝić.

    KTM-1983-010-0011

  • A Expedicão
    Kon-Tiki
    8.000 km Numa Jangada Através do Pacífico

    Comp. Melhoramentos de Sao Paulo, 1952, 198 pp., 4th Edition.

    Translator: Agenor Soares de Moura.

    KTM-1983-010-0015

  • A Expedicão
    Kon-Tiki
    8.000 km Numa Jangada Através do Pacífico

    Comp. Melhoramentos de Sao Paulo, 1959, 198 pp., 7th Edition.

    Translator: Agenor Soares de Moura.

    KTM-1983-010-0014

  • A Expedicão
    Kon-Tiki

    Jose Olympio Editora, 1999, 223 pp., 8th Edition.

    Translator: Agenor Soares de Moura.

    KTM-1983-010-0013

  • A Expedicão
    Kon-Tiki

    Jose Olympio Editora, 1999, 279 pp., 11th Edition.

    Translator: Agenor Soares de Moura.

    KTM-1983-010-0368

  • Кон-Тики

    Издателство На Цк Народна Младеж, 1958, 248 pp.

    Translator: Teodora Dzhebarova.

    KTM-1983-010-0074

  • Експедицията
    кон-Тики

    народна младеж, издателство на цк дкмс Sofia, 1966, 260 pp.

    Translator: Teodora Dzhebarova.

    KTM-1983-010-0016

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditionen

    Gyldendal, 1955, 167 pp.

    Translator: Dagny Sandvad.

    KTM-1983-010-0019

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditionen

    Gyldendal, 1958, 167 pp.

    Translator: Dagny Sandvad.

    KTM-1983-010-0021

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditionen

    Gyldendal, 1949, 187 pp.

    Translator: Dagny Sandvad.

    KTM-1983-010-0020

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditionen

    Gyldendal, 1979, 157  pp.

    Translator: Dagny Sandvad.

    KTM-1983-010-0023

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditionen

    Gyldendal, 1999, 157  pp.

    Translator: Dagny Sandvad.

    KTM-1983-010-0022

  • Ekspedicio Kon-Tiki

    Eldona Societo Esperanto, 210 pp.

    Translator: Carsten Brynildsen.

    KTM-1983-010-0024

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditsioon

    Estonian State Publishing House, 1957, 288 pp.

    Translator: Obrutsevi Esseona.

    KTM-1983-010-0025

  • Kon-Tiki
    Lautalla yli Tyynemeren

    Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi Helsinki, 1981, 279 pp.

    Translator: Oiva Talvitie.

    KTM-1983-010-0026

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditioon

    Tänapäev, 1957, 240 pp.

    Translator: Henrik Sepamaa.

    KTM-1983-010-0370

  • Kon-Tiki
    Ekspeditioon

    Tänapäev, 2004, 240 pp.

    Translator: Henrik Sepamaa.

    KTM-1983-010-0369

  • Lautalla Yli Tyynenmeren

    Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi Helsinki, 1950, 230 pp., 5th Edition.

    Translator: Oiva Talvitie.

    KTM-1983-010-0194

  • Lautalla Yli Tyynenmeren

    Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi Helsinki, 1949, 230 pp., 4th Edition.

    Translator: Oiva Talvitie.

    KTM-1983-010-0193

  • Lautalla Yli Tyynenmeren

    Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi Helsinki, 1955, 223 pp., 7th Edition.

    Translator: Oiva Talvitie.

    KTM-1983-010-0027

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1976, 210 pp., 7th Edition.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0028

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1951, 383 pp.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0030

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1951, 307 pp.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0029

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1951, 187 pp.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0031

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1958, 435 pp.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0032

  • L'expédition du Kon-Tiki

    Éditions Albin Michel, 1951, 305 pp.

    Translator: Narguerite Gay and Gerd de Mautort.

    KTM-1983-010-0033

  • Kon-Tiki
    ManeragussuaK umiardlûtáinarmik ikârdlugo ilisimassagssarsiorneK

    Kalâtdlit-nunãne naKiterisitsissarfik, 1960, 211 pp.

    Translator: Mads Lynge and Hans Westermann.

    KTM-1983-010-0036

  • Kon-Tiki
    'Η καταπληκτικότερη περιπέτεια στίς Οάλασσες τού Νότου

    ΒΙΒΛΙΟΠΩΛΕΙΟΝ ΤΗΣ ΕΣΤΙΑΣ, 1991, 496 pp.

    Translator: ΚΟΣΜΑΣ ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ.

    KTM-1983-010-0035

  • Kon-Tiki
    'Η καταπληκτικότερη περιπέτεια στίς Οάλασσες τού Νότου

    ΒΙΒΛΙΟΠΩΛΕΙΟΝ ΤΗΣ ΕΣΤΙΑΣ, 1992, 496 pp., 2nd Edition

    Translator: ΚΟΣΜΑΣ ΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ.

    KTM-1983-010-0034

  • [The Kon-Tiki Expedition]

    Navachethana Prakatanalaya, 244 pp.

    Translator: Sri H. N. Madhava Rao.

    KTM-1983-010-0037

     

Heyerdahl's private library

A part of Thor Heyerdahl’s private book collection that he no longer used actively was donated to the Kon-Tiki Museum in 1983, at the same time as his photo collection and document archive were given to the museum.

The collection consists of 1.131 books mainly covering topics of exploration, archaeology, anthropology and history in the Pacific, the Americas, and the Old World cultures around the Mediterranean.

A list of books in the collection can be downloaded here.

Thor Heyerdahl and Knut M. Haugland in Colla Micheri, Italy, ready to begin transporting books to the Kon-Tiki Museum, Norway.