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Name: Melissa

About Me

Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City

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London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne

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Skin by Falter

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Sunday, October 02, 2011
I love seeing strange museums - remember when I went to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda, Japan? But when S. told me that there was a Leprosy museum in Bergen, I have to admit, I was sceptical. We’d only just arrived in Bergen a few hours ago, an 8 hour journey from Oslo by train, so I was a little more tired than usual. I thought that if I went straight after the epic train ride, then all the reading that usually is the norm with museums would send me sleepwalking through the beautiful streets of Bergen. It was decided that we would spend as much time sightseeing on that afternoon as we could, and work on the museum the next day.

I’m not going to lie – even though I was keen on the idea initially, I was quite freaked out when I walked inside. I knew nothing about the disease, and didn’t know whether it was contagious or not (stupid, I know). I figured that it should be okay to enter if they allowed tourists to enter and other locals to work there. I later found out that the building was the former St Jørgen’s Hospital which housed leprosy patients, and that the last patient housed was there over 500 years ago, which made me feel a bit silly.

The museum is unique to say the least – it details the work of Gerhard Armauer Hansen, of whom Hansen’s disease is named, and who is thought to be the most famous Norwegian outside of Norway. It goes in depth into his effort at finding a cure, a treatment, anything that would give the lepers a chance at self-affirmation and worth. As you enter the rooms that formerly housed the lepers, you read their stories, many outcast from their family and the rest of society, some still loved by their families but hid away whilst the disease took its toll, some left with no choice other than falling into a beggar’s life. Their struggle with limb amputation, enormous boils, scab sores and other ailments made it very clear how brutal this disease was. I think what shocked me the most was reading that it was not uncommon for sufferers to be dealing with kilos of bacteria inside their bodies. KILOS!!!

So, here are a few photos from the museum that I took. I really wanted to take pictures of the chapel, which had sculptures of Jesus Christ surrounded by lepers, but there was a guided tour in Norwegian happening there at the time, and I didn’t want to disturb them with my photo taking.

Displays, now located in the patient's former living quarters.

On the left were the rooms where the lepers stayed, and on the right were the treatment rooms.

I have a strange facination with scientific equipent from the 1800's.

Hospital Kitchens.