Mongols in the Memories of Oscar Mamen

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Mongols in the Memories of Oscar Mamen

Welcome to the conference and exhibition dedicated to the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Norway. The conference explore Mongolia's first independence years, and the social and cultural changes happening in front of Norwegian traveller Oscar Mamen's camera lenses.

Time and place: Oct. 12, 2023 9:00 AM – 2:30 PM, Main Lecture Hall, (Foredragssalen), 3rd floor, Museum of Cultural History

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Black and white photo of a Mongolian on horse

Urga (Ulaanbaatar) 1913. Photo: Oscar Mamen/Museum of Cultural History

Oscar Mamen was a Norwegian adventurer and salesman who travelled in Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, China and Russia for almost 30 years. He first arrived in Mongolia in 1911, right before Mongolia became an independent state after being under the Qing empire for 220 years.

Mamen’s manuscript about Mongolia and his photographs show a different perspective of this area than Westerners had previously described. His work provided important insight to Mongolia being an independent state where traditional culture flourished, before it became a part of the Soviet world. From then on Mongolian tradition came under pressure, resulting in limited material of traditional Mongolian culture after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. That is why collections from European travellers, like Oscar Mamen, who documented Mongolia during its independency are highly valued by both Mongolians and researchers specializing in this region.

In 2017, Oscar Mamen’s grandchildren donated the collection from his travels to the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. The collection consists of over 8.000 photographies, 500 objects, diaries, letters, travel documents and three manuscripts. The photographies were digitized and released to the museum database in 2019.

At today's conference, we celebrate the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Norway and explore Mongolia's first independence years.

There is no registration needed for this event.

Image may contain: Footwear, Sleeve, Standing, Collar, Uniform.

Oscar Mamen, Urga (Ulaanbaatar), 1913. Photo: Oscar Mamen/Museum of Cultural History




  • Welcome and greetings 
  • Håkon Glørstad, Director of Museum of Cultural History, Oslo 
  • His Excellency Tuvdendorj Janabazar, Ambassador of Mongolia in Sweden, accredited to Norway 



  • The independence of Mongolia in 1911 and Bogd Khan in the Memories of Oscar Mamen by Professor Batsaikhan Ookhnoi, The Institute of International studies, Mongolian Academy of Sciences 


  • A Collection in the Making: The life of Oscar Mamen by Maria Kartveit, Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Ethnography, Numismatics, Classical Archaeology and University History, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo 

10.05-10.30 (on Zoom) 

  • Economic Activity at Urga in the Early 20th Century: The Landscape of Market Photographed by O. Mamen by Professor Konagaya Yuki, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan 

10.30-10.45 Coffee break and snack 
10.45-11.10 (on Zoom) 

  • A Historical Geographic Study of Mongolia Using Old Photos: An Attempt to Identify the Residence of O. Mamen, a Merchant Who Lived in the Urga (Ulaanbaatar) a Century Ago by Watanabe Mitsuko, Associate Professor of the Department of International Understanding, Faculty of International Studies, Bunkyo University, Tokyo, Japan 


  • A Norwegian traveler in the Sekiz muren region (beginning of the 20th century) by Maria Magdolna Tatár, Professor Emerita, NAVF, Research Council of Sciences in Norway 


  • ‘Shortie’ and the ‘Giant’: Oscar Mamen and Ethel Lindgren’s fieldwork in Inner Mongolia by Dr. Jocelyne Dudding, Manager of Photographic Collection, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge 

12.00-12.30 Lunch 
12.30-12.55 (on Zoom) 

  • Filling Gaps with Oscar Mamen by Sue Byrne, Independent researcher, London, UK 

12.55-13.20 (on Zoom) 

  • Photography skills and technology improved by looking at Mamen’s first and last photos by Delgerjargal Davaanyam, Ulaanbaatar-based photographer  

13.20 -13.45 (on Zoom) 

  • Historical Photos in Mongolian Contemporary Art Context by Bolormaa Algaa/Otgonbat Natsagdorj. Artists, National University of Arts and Culture.  

13.45 -14.10 

  • Burning as a cleansing ritual across Eurasia by Sarolta Eva Maria Tatár-Fosse, doktorant

14.10- 14.20

  • Closing remarks by Olav Hamran, Head of the Department of Ethnography, Numismatics, Classical Archaeology and University History 


If you have any practical questions about this conference, please contact Doctoral Research Fellow Maria Kartveit


  • Embassy of Mongolia

  • Mongolian-Norwegian association
  • Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Institute of International Studies, Mongolian Academy of Sciences