RUOKTOT – The 50th anniversary exhibition of the Sámi Museum in Karasjok – Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat

In January 2022, RiddoDuottarMuseat (RDM) – Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat (SVD) learned that ownership of Anders Poulsen’s drum which had been at the museum since 1979 would be transferred back to the Sámi. The drum was officially returned from the National Museum in Copenhagen to RDM-SVD. This was good news for everyone who has worked for decades to get the drum back into Sámi ownership.

About the exhibition “RUOKTOT – The Return of the Sámi drums”


Our exhibition is available as a 360° virtual tour: until June 30, 2023!


The link to the 360° virtual tour

See also the News


Museum exhibit period :12.04.22 – 07.09.23


The topic of the 50th anniversary exhibition is “Sámi rumbbuid máhcaheapmi” – The Return of the Sámi Drums. In this exhibition, we use the Sámi term máhcaheapmi in the meaning of repatriation in relation to the return of cultural heritage. According to Sámi oral tradition, a skilful spiritual expert, a noaidi, can possess powers to identify objects that have been stolen or taken away without permission. Furthermore, a noaidi can make those guilty of stealing or taking objects away bring them back to their original owners. Often the drum was used for that purpose.
This process is called máhcahit in North Sámi.

The idea behind the anniversary exhibition came a few years ago, all because of a drum belonging to Anders Poulsen. The National Museum in Denmark owned the 400-year-old drum at that time, which was on loan to SVD from 1979 until recently. The loan agreement would expire by the end of December 2021, but the museum wanted ownership to be transferred from the National Museum in Denmark to RDM-SVD.

The Danish Minister of Culture approved the transfer of ownership of Anders Poulsen’s drum to RDM – Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat in January 2022. This is the first time in history that an object of Sámi cultural heritage was returned from abroad to Sápmi. The drum is the main person in the anniversary exhibition.

Tidslinje av tilbakeføringen av Anders Poulsens trommeCa 1600, Trommen lages i Torne Lappmark. 1691, Trommen beslaglegges i Várjjat-Varanger område. 1692, Tingretten tar ut tiltale mot Anders Poulsen for bruk av trommen. 1694 Trommen inngår i Det Kongelige Kunstkammer i København, Danmark. Ca 1845, Trommen innlemmes i samlingen til Nasjonalmuseet i København, inventarnummer La.5 1978-1979, Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat (SVD) ber om å låne trommen til Kárášjohka-Karasjok. 1979, Trommen flyttes fra København til Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat med kuriertransport 1979-1999, Den første låneavtalen mellom Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat og Nationalmuseet blir inngått, visning av trommen er strengt regulert, trommen oppbevares i lystett tre koffert. 1999-2009, Forlengelse av låneavtalen 2006 Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat under RiddoDuottarMuseat (RDM) ber om offisiell tilbakeføring av eierskapet til tromma, Nationalmuseet avslår forespørselen 2011-2016, Forlengelse av låneavtalen 2016 Nationalmuseet krever oppbevaring av trommen i klimaregulert monter, klimamonter anskaffes med støtte fra Sametinget. 2016-2021, Forlengelse av låneavtalen med utløp 01.12.2021 14.04.2020 “Tilbakeføring av seremonielle gjenstander og menneskelige levninger i henhold til FNs erklæring om urfolks rettigheter”, felles uttalelse fra samiske museer i Norge til FNs ekspertgruppe for urfolksrettigheter og FNs menneskerettighetsråd. Høsten 2020, FNs menneskerettighetsråd i Genève uttaler seg om repatriering av seremonielle objekter og menneskelige levninger tilbake til urfolk. 10.12.2020, Styret til RiddoDuottarMuseat uttaler at samene er de rettmessige eiere av trommen. 12.04.2021, “Krav til eierskap av La.5 samisk tromme”, brev fra RDM-SVD til Nationalmuseet i København. 21.09.2021, “Repatriering av samisk tromme til RiddoDuottarMuseat”, brev fra Sametinget til dronning av Danmark. November 2021, Nationalmuseet avgir sin faglige innstilling om overføring av eier skapet til trommen. 21.01.2022, Det danske kulturdeparte mentet godkjenner tilbake føringen av trommen, basert på anbefalingen fra Nasjonalmuseet. 12.04.2022, RDM – Sámiid Vuorká Dávvirat åpner 50 års jubileumsutstilling i Karasjok “RUOKTOT – Tilbakeføring av samiske trommer”. Anders Poulsens tromme er hovedpersonen i utstillingen
Timeline of the Return of Anders Poulsen’s Drum

The voiceless time

The meanings and significance of the drums were taken away from Sámi communities when the drums were expropriated during the 17th and 18th centuries and even as late as in the 19th century. Many drums were removed by force. Some were handed to the authorities in fear of corporeal or religious punishment inflicted by representatives of the colonial ruling powers of the kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden. Most of the sacred Sámi drums were destroyed and burnt, some were lost and some were shipped off, traded or given away as souvenirs.

72 Sámi drums have been preserved and kept in museums and private collections. Recently, several drums or parts of drums have been discovered, hidden away by their owners many hundred years ago. From Sápmi the drums first ended up as exotic objects representing «the Ultimate North» in Stockholm, Uppsala, Trondheim, and Copenhagen, and some of them were taken even further afield to places such as Paris, Rome, London, Cambridge, Berlin, Leipzig, Cologne, Dresden, Munich, etc.

Placed in foreign environments, the drums became voiceless: no one to talk to or with, no language to share, no stories to tell, no one to listen to or to understand them, with no purpose to fill.

Anders Poulsen’s goavddis – drum

3D scan av Anders Poulsens tromme.
3D scan of Anders Poulsen’s drum
  • Ancestry: Davvisápmelaš – North Sámi –
  • Measurements: 44 cm x 33 cm x 10 cm
  • Place of origin: The drum and its owner are
    originally from Torne Lappmark – Duortnus,
    perhaps around Čohkkiras (Jukkasjärvi).
  • Age: The drum was presumably made before
    1650, according to the owner’s testimony.
  • Embellishments: The wooden part of the drum
    is a richly decorated piece of duodji, traditional
    Sámi handicraft (garra duodji in Sámi). According
    to Anders Poulsen’s testimony, he embellished
    the drum with two fox ears, a fox snout, and
    claw. Only the fox claw has survived.
                      • The last Sámi owner: Paul-Ánde, Anders
                        Poulsen, also known as Pávvál Ánde or Poala Ánde,
                        was born around the year 1600 in Torne
                        Lappmark. He learned to use the drum from his
                        mother but he indicated that he initially got the
                        drum from a Sámi man from Torne Lappmark
                        named Pedar-Ánde, Anders Pedersen. In 1691 he
                        was arrested, accused of performing witchcraft,
                        subsequently imprisoned, and forced to hand
                        over his drum. In 1692 he was sentenced to
                        death by the district court in Finnmark, Northern
                        Norway, in Čáhcesuolu (Vadsø).



Ruoktot in Sámi means going or coming home. Three-dimensional images of five Sámi drums make the core of the exhibition. One of these drums has already returned to Sápmi, the homeland of the Sámi people. Four other drums are still waiting to come home, to be with their people.

The five Sámi drums displayed in the exhibition were selected via a collaboration between Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat, Saemien Sijte, Árran, and Siida.We would like to thank all the museums that own or display the Sámi drums that were used for the 3D modelling: The Nordic Museum and the State Historical Museum (both in Stockholm, Sweden), GRASSI Museum (Leipzig, Germany), Meiningen Museum (Germany) and, Ájtte (Jokkmokk, Sweden).

Photos from the exhibition, Part 1 “Drums”. Photos: ©RDM-SVD, 2022



Photos from the exhibition, Part 2 “Drums and Art”. Photos: ©RDM-SVD, 2022

The exhibition production team

Exhibition concept and curation                 Jelena Porsanger
Exhibition texts                                               Konsta Kaikkonen, Jelena Porsanger
Exhibition design                                            Jérémie McGowan, Annelise Josefsen
Graphic design                                                 Labba Art, Inka Rauhala
Exhibition maps                                              Inka Rauhala
3D models                                                        Matthew Walker Magnani
3D-animation, video, videodesign              Åsmund Bøe
Drum sound                                                     Halvdan Nedrejord, Magnus Vuolab, Skádja Studio
Pictures of 3D models                                    Åsmund Bøe
Drums and art                                                 Annelise Josefsen, Pål Omholt-Jensen, Paula Rauhala,                                                                                       Håkon Holmgren Gabrielsen
Artisans – Duojár                                            Osvald Guttorm, Pia Jannok

Lule Sámi story                                            Sissel Ann Mikkelsen, Samuel Gælok, Heidi Birgitta              Julevsámi muitalus                                    Andersen, Egil Keskitalo

South Sámi story                                         Rawdna Carita Eira, Elen Kristina Utsi, Nanni Westerfjell,  Åarjelsaemie soptsese                              Cecilia Persson, Daniel Steinfjell, Ragnhild Lund Ansnes

North Sámi story                                         Inga Ravna Eira, Laila Stien, Egil Keskitalo

Davvisámi muitalus