Royal Visit: Honoring the City of Kongsberg's 400-Year legacy

On 2 May, His Majesty King Harald and Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway visited the City of Kongsberg, the birthplace and namesake of KONGSBERG, to mark the city's 400th anniversary. As part of the celebration, KONGSBERG announced its commitment to open the culturally significant Kongsberg School of Mines’ building, Bergseminaret, to the public.

On May 2nd, 2024, the City of Kongsberg commemorated its 400th anniversary, tracing its founding back to Christian IV of Denmark and Norway after the discovery of silver in 1623. The establishment of Kongsberg Silver Works solidified the city's significance, predating Norway's Constitution established in 1814.

The Kongsberg School of Mines, founded in 1757 by royal resolution of Frederick V, stands as one of Europe's earliest educational institutions for higher education in mining engineering. The school aimed to enhance Denmark-Norway's mining knowledge and elevate the competence level at Kongsberg Silver Works.

The Kongsberg School of Mines-building, called Bergseminaret, has a storied history. The old school building holds the distinction of being the birthplace of higher technical education in Norway, laying the groundwork for institutions like Norwegian University of Science and Technology. From serving as the residence for directors of Kongsberg Silver Works to later being utilized by the Norwegian Armed Forces, the building has witnessed significant phases of the city's development.

Recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the building, KONGSBERG took the initiative to purchase and restore it.

"In honor of the City of Kongsberg’s 400th anniversary, KONGSBERG has restored the Kongsberg School of Mines’ building Bergseminaret - a cultural-historical landmark located in the heart of KONGSBERG’s hometown."

"This property, closely intertwined with the city's and our company’s long history, has been revitalized and will be opened to the public to serve as a hub for education and research– further building on the strong legacy of technological innovation," said Geir Håøy, CEO of KONGSBERG.

In collaboration with the University of South-East Norway, KONGSBERG will establish technology labs and meeting spaces at Bergseminaret. These labs will focus on areas such as Human-Machine Interface, Extended Reality, and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, reflecting the cutting-edge technologies driving modern innovation. Giving the Bergseminaret its true purpose back: fostering education and knowledge.

Eirik Lie, President of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, expressed KONGSBERG's commitment to revitalizing the building: "KONGSBERG has been part of this city for over 200 years, and we want to give back to the community and the City of Kongsberg. We are happy to create a space that will shape the future of education and technology development in the city.”

“Since the discovery of silver, the City of Kongsberg has evolved into an international industrial hub with a culture of innovation, utilizing cutting-edge knowledge and tools to tackle complex challenges. KONGSBERG takes pride in being an integral part of this industrial and innovative community,” said Lisa Edvardsen Haugan, President, Kongsberg Maritime.

This rich history and the City of Kongsberg's pivotal role in contemporary Norway were highlighted during the celebration attended by the Royal Couple.

"The renovated building will foster collaboration between academia and industry, serving as a vibrant laboratory for knowledge-based and technology-driven innovation," noted Håøy. "It will exemplify lifelong learning, where university courses contribute to industry competence needs, benefiting present and future generations."

With renovations underway, Håøy expressed anticipation for the official opening during Kongsberg Agenda in June, marking a new chapter in the city's rich history.

Happy birthday, Kongsberg!