The Arctic themed Polaria is housed in a very striking modern building. It looks like it has been made in five white blocks that have been pushed over. I have been told it is supposed to represent blocks of ice pressed upon the shore by the rough seas of the Arctic. It is very effective.
You will find it on the waterfront not far from Macks Brewery. It is only a five minute walk from the centre of the Tromso. If you have children get them to go find the polar bear statue by the side of the building.
As you look at the front door there is a glass building to the left that encapsulates a fishing trailer. This is a hands on exhibit were adults and children can safely experience life on a fishing boat without the danger of falling in the sea. Its address is Hjalmar Johansensgate 12
Tromso Polaria is an Arctic aquarium and museum. The exhibits help you learn about nature, life, and the extreme adaptations plants and animals have developed in order to survive in the arctic. Most of the fish and marine animals living in the waters north of the Vestfjord and the near freezing waters of the Barents sea and the water around Svalbard (Spitsbergen) are represented in the Aquarium. This allows you to get up close to them without getting seasick.
I was fascinated watching the giant king crabs walk around. They are huge and would look at home on a horror movie. The centre looks after three Bearded seals. They are the largest seals living in Norwegian oceans and inhabit the areas around the islands of Svalbard (Spitsbergen), Bearded seals are not found along the Norwegian coast.
The seals put on a show with their handlers. Future plans are to expand the complex to incorporate a saltwater enclosure at the rear of the building in the fjord to house the seals in a more natural environment. There is a Perspex tunnel that runs through the Bearded seal enclosure. Place your hand on the clear dome and if a seal comes up to you move your hand and they may follow it. This is a charming way to get close to Arctic wildlife.
There are regular panoramic film shows that take you on a helicopter journey along the west coast of Spitsbergen, the largest island in the group known as Svalbard. After the film you go through 'Arctic Walkway'. Here you experience some elements of the Arctic, a snowstorm, a sleeping polar bear, the tundra and the Aurora (Northern Lights). The tundra representation was good. It was like walking on a massive sponge.
Polaria was established in 1997 on the initiative of The Department of the Environment, in order to spread knowledge and awareness of Arctic flora and fauna, climate and environmental consequences, to tourists and other visitors. There is a large parking space in front of the building. The Polar Environmental Centre is the building next door to Polaria. It contains several national research- and management institutions working in the polar areas. Approximately 300 people are directly or indirectly engaged in the activities, a large number of those are scientists.