UPDATED: Emergency crews scrambled to save priceless works of art and historic musical instruments from the Ringve Museum in Trondheim, when it was hit by fire Monday morning. The museum’s collection includes around 2,000 instruments from all over the world and at least some of them were spared.
The fire broke out shortly after 10:30am, with state broadcaster NRK reporting that at least 22 firefighters were at the scene to contain the blaze. Flames were visible from the roof of the historic manor house where the main collection is located, and smoke was billowing. Victor Pedersen, operations leader of the Sør-Trøndelag Police District, told NRK at around noon that crews were “working intensely to gain control over the blaze.” They finally succeeded at around 12:30pm, but smoke and steam from all the water used to contain the fire continued to waft around the historic structure all afternoon.
“This is sad,” Pedersen added, “because Ringve is a national treasure.”
Tordenskiold’s childhood home
The museum, founded in 1952, is Norway’s national music museum but also contained a vast collection of international instruments and pianos built as early as the 1600s. The Ringve Farm at Lade, just outside Trondheim, is also an historic property in itself, with buildings dating back to the 1700s.
Ringve was also the childhood home of Peter Wessel Tordenskiold, the Danish-Norwegian war hero who lived from 1690 to 1720, and the museum also has a collection tied to him and his era.
Museum employees were evacuated but some continued to run in and out of the building as they tried to help save its valuable contents. Several others were crying. Antique furniture and harpsichords were among items being carried outside and placed in the museum yard while staff ran in to retrieve more, but only from the first floor. With the fire appearing to burn in the building’s attic, the second floor was off limits.
A ‘nightmare’ and a ‘tragedy’
Museum director Ivar Roger Hansen called the fire a “nightmare” as NRK’s radio reporter at the scene described smoke pouring out of the chimneys and from the walls of the wooden building. “It’s a nighmare and a tragedy, simply the worst thing that can happen to a museum,” Hansen told NRK.
He called the main building where the fire broke out the “jewel” of the entire museum. A new plan was in place to try to secure valuable items still inside and those now sitting outside. Tarps were set up to protect them until they could be moved to a warehouse, and museum staff was standing guard.
The cause of the blaze could not immediately be determined. Trondheim officials called the fire “shocking,” and “a tragedy of historic, national and international character.” More than 100 tourists, many of them from one of the Hurtigruten ships that was in port, were at the museum when the fire broke out. There were no injuries.