Seppalatunet opened in 2015. The centre is run by Birgit Paulsen, who has a special interest in the local stories from Skjervøy, which she conveys through stories, art, pictures, handicrafts and tastes.
The world-famous Leonhard Seppala
Seppalatunet primarily conveys the story of Leonhard Seppala (1877-1967), who grew up in this building close to Skjervøy and later became known as the world’s leading musher (sled dog driver).
You can hear about how Seppala went to the United States as a gold digger in 1900, but after a while took up dog sledding and became friends with Roald Amundsen.
You can gain an insight into the incredible story of the serum run in 1925 from Nenana to Nome in Alaska. Seppala and his lead dog Togo made a huge effort to transport diphtheria antitoxins to the epidemic-hit town along with another sled dog driver, Gunnar Kaasen from Kvænangen, and his dog Balto. The annual Iditarod sled dog race is held in their honour.
What role did the little fishing village of Skjevøy have in the Norwegian polar history? Seppalatunet conveys the story of when the ship “Fram”, from Nansen’s famous polar expedition, sailed into Skjervøy harbour in the summer of 1896. This was the first port the ship called at after three years in the polar ice.
This is also the place to learn more Skjervøy Church, which dates from 1728 and is one of the oldest and best-preserved wooden churches in Northern Norway.
The church formed an important part of the missionary work of the priest Thomas von Westen, who aimed to convert the local Norwegian and Sami population to Christianity.
During your visit to Seppalatunet, you can purchase local food products from the Lyngenfjord region and other places north of the Arctic Circle, including stockfish, jams, herbs from local farms and products from Reisa, the little berry cookery at 69º North.
A truly unique product sold here is the coffee, which features exciting stories from Skjervøy in the design.
You will find high quality local handicraft products and materials such as ceramics, wool and sheepskins from the wild sheep breed Old Norwegian. If you need gloves, woollen socks, soles or shawls to keep you warm, you will find a good selection at Seppalatunet. Moreover, you will find jewellery made by local silversmith Joe Yomphuk.
Seppalatunet is continually adding exciting, new products made by local craftsmen.
Exhibition of local art and photography
Seppalatunet is also a venue for exhibitions. You can see works by talented local artists including Bernt Snorre Johansen, Per Bjørkestøl and Anne Jakobsen.
Seppalatunet is situated in a white house in the heart of the fishing village Skjervøy. If you drive from the mainland, you will spot Seppalatunet on the right-hand side down to the sea. If you are approaching from the quayside, it will be on your left-hand side.