A Home for Our History
How a Captain’s love for our maritime heritage led to a beautiful new museum in Stokmarknes, dedicated to The Coastal Express.
Walking along the waterfront of this pretty fishing village in the Vesterålen archipelago, you can’t miss the big, bold, box-shaped building of glass, gleaming in the sunlight. As you draw closer, you’ll see that encased within is a full-sized ship - our very own MS Finnmarken from 1956.
“If you want her, you have to come and get her”
Former Captain Sten Magne Engen comes from a small place just outside Stokmarknes. He has sailed coasts all around the world, captaining eight ships in total, and has been a board member of the museum since 1991.
When he first heard that MS Finnmarken was to be retired in 1993, Sten Magne leaped into action. “I felt that it was an important treasure to take care of. This is a classic, beautiful ship. Hurtigruten ships are in harmony with the Norwegian coast, and we should treasure them and their history.”
He spent the next several months sweet-talking various people to try and have MS Finnmarken donated to the museum. In 1994, just as he was about to go on holiday, he received the reply “If you want her, you have to come and get her”. “I immediately changed my holiday plans and gathered a crew together” Sten Magne says. “It was the opportunity I had been looking for, even if it meant a cancelled holiday”, he chuckles.
Building for the future
In August 2021, Hurtigrutemuseet opened its doors, featuring a lovingly restored MS Finnmarken and its counterpart from 1912, DS Finnmarken. The modern museum is the result of a 200-million Norwegian Kroner makeover and a huge team effort that included the national government, the county municipality, the regional bank, Museum Nord, sponsors, volunteers, and local enthusiasts.
For Sten Magne, it represents three decades of dedication. “It’s been a long road, with a lot of effort involving so many people… But it was worth it! The result is so beautiful,” he says proudly, a big smile on his face.
The extensive joint-project is a testament not only to Sten Magne’s passion and persistence, but also to what The Coastal Express means to people on the coast. Together, the museum partners plan to continue Sten Magne’s hard work, preserving and giving new life to this important history for many generations to come.