A unique cultural monument with strong stories set in it’s walls.
St. Jørgen’s hospital is a unique cultural monument. If you visit the museum, you cannot avoid imagining what life must have been like for the many people who have lived parts of their lives here for centuries. At the same time, you will be able to learn more about the disease leprosy and its spread in Norway, and about how a large-scale investment in research and health work put Bergen on the world map. You can join a guided tour or visit on your own to see the exhibition in the main building.
St. Jørgen´s Hospital has existed in Bergen since the 15th century, but due to several city fires, nothing remains from the medieval hospital. Between 1850 and 1900 Bergen had three hospitals for leprosy patients, and the largest concentration of patients in Europe.
The buildings remaining here today are all listed and constitute a well-preserved hospital environment from the 18th century. The church and the main building with bedrooms and kitchen have largely remained unchanged since the last two residents died in 1946, after living here for over 50 years. Perhaps you, like many of our previous guests, will find walking around the now empty rooms a gripping and thought-provoking experience.
The history of leprosy in Norway is probably in many ways a little known part of our national history, but at the same time many visitors from all over the world find their way to the museum.
St. Jørgen´s hospital is not only a monument to thousands of personal tragedies, it is also an important arena for the dissemination of Norwegian work and research on leprosy.
The hospital’s archives are part of the Leprosy Archives in Bergen, which are on UNESCO’s program for World Memory.
In 1873, Bergen doctor Gerhard Armauer Hansen identified the leprosy bacillus. This represented an international breakthrough, not only for leprosy research, but in medicine in general.
The discovery of the leprosy bacillus has been able to enjoy international fame for well over 100 years and even today Hansen is one of the most famous Norwegians in the world. In many parts of the world leprosy is still commonly known as Hansen’s disease.
The story of leprosy is not only about medicine and science, but also about social conditions and social relationships. Leprosy is a disease that from the Middle Ages until today has had major consequences for those who have been affected, and prejudice and stigma are still a challenge in countries where the disease is still widespread.
The museum also has its own herb garden. If you enter through the old farm building, you will find a garden behind the main building which contains a number of plants that have traditions for medicinal use.
The garden was developed in the 1990s and is open for visits during the museum’s opening hours. Not too many people have found this hidden gem yet, so you can usually enjoy the peace and quiet here in the middle of the city.
We offer guided tours in Norwegian and English, as well as guide brochures in English, German, French, Spanish and Russian.
On a guided tour at the museum you will learn about leprosy and about the public’s efforts to fight the disease through mapping, institutions, legislation and medical research, but also talk about the link between disease and social conditions, and how diseases can affect social relationships.
Among the many individuals who have lived parts of their lives at St. Jørgens Hospital, there are stories of stigma and separation, but also of strong family ties, unity and contact with the city’s inhabitants. A walk through the well-preserved main building and the church in this unique cultural monument will give an impression of daily life here for many thousands of residents until 1946.
It is primarily the main building and the church that are open to the public. Several of the other houses are in use as homes and can therefore not be visited.
Duration approx. 45-60 min.
St. Jørgens Hospital has accommodated many human destinies over the centuries. Now these historic walls form the framework for this exhibition on dementia and memory.
The exhibition is a collaboration between Bethany Rehabilitation and Nursing Home (BRS) and the City Museum in Bergen and aims to spread knowledge about dementia and to invite reflection on the value of our memories.