Main areas of work related to the Convention:
From fieldwork during many years, an extensive, national archive has been established. As of 2017 it contains approx. 75 000 registrations of clothes, privately owned. These fieldtrips have a duration of five days, and there are about five or six such weeks through the year. Each fieldtrip is organised in close cooperation with local forces. Local associations prepare the fieldwork and talk to people that might have stored old clothes in their homes, usually farmers’ families. The owners bring their collections to a local venue, where the institute is ready to register the clothes. Usually the owners have their collections registered the same day. In some cases, it is necessary to return for fieldtrips in the same area several years. Each private owner signs an agreement to registration. Each item is photographed, and a description is produced detailing the fabric, colour, technique and cut. Any additional information from the owner is vital, so that knowledge about the garments and their history is preserved. Knowledge about how different parts of clothing has been worn together, their symbolic meaning, and information about the context in which they have been used, is important information. NBF often gives advice on how to preserve and take care of the old garments in private homes.
The archive is supplemented by photos, sketches, patterns and notes about material related to costume traditions from different districts. Additional sources include illustrations from artists, probate material, letters and other items that describe the old costume traditions. The archives at the NBF also include samples of fabrics, information on textiles, and detailed descriptions of sewing technique. The archives are publicly available.
Based on fieldwork, interviews and other studies, the institute gives both practical and theoretical classes on the subject. Craftsmen may be given advice and practical guidance, and even training according to their specific needs. The institute engages in local and regional safeguarding programmes, and contributes with their knowledge of traditional crafts and cultural history.
As a national institution, NBF plays an important role as a mediator and a counsellor to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education.
Specific safeguarding activities include:
- NBF work with other NGO's to provide six weeks of practical training annually for young craftsmen and-women.
- NBF offers a week long training course for museum-employees every year, concerning cultural history and the phenomenon of traditional dress and the revitalization of bunad.
- NBF work together with University of Trondheim on six courses in the phenomenon of traditional dress and the revitalization of bunad, as part of their ethnology-progamme.
- NBF hosts the annual conference of bunad called "Fagdagane", every year in august, with four other NGO's. Last years conference had 140 participants, and aims to raise awareness and knowledge of traditional costumes and bunads.
Norwegian Institute of bunad and folk costume (NBF) is working to guard and promote the manufacturing and use of bunads (revitalized, regional costumes), as an expression of cultural identity and as a unique cultural heritage. Furthermore: A) NBF works to document the traditional folk costume through fieldwork, and to preserve the knowledge about these customs in terms of production, use and cultural context. B) All information and knowledge derived from fieldwork and interviews is to be made publically available, both at the institute itself and online. C) NBF shall work to research the history of the traditional folk costume, both theoretically and practically. Also, NBF works to research the revitalization of the traditional costumes, as seen in the extensive use of bunads throughout the 1900's. D) The institute aims to be a source of information and assistance to bunad-craftsmen, students and researchers in the field. NBF is frequently working to offer a variety of university classes, practical courses and informal training upon request. NBF works to promote the knowledge and use of bunad in a modern context.
The objectives for which NBF was founded are still very much valid today; to serve as a facilitator, nationally and regionally, to document existing material and to give advice and guiding based on research. The Institute has in recent years worked together with other NGOs to promote the use and knowledge of traditional costumes and bunads, for example by arranging the annual Bunad-Conference in August. Furthermore, the institute has since 2008 been heading a national network of textile museums. Here, the objective has been to increase the practical and theoretical knowledge of museum workers about textiles and costumes.
The purpose of establishing the Norwegian Institute of Bunad and Folk Costume (NBF) in 1947, was always twofold; to document and gather information from bearers of the traditional folk costumes, and to give advice and training to craftsmen producing bunad according to the tradition. This dual purpose has since then resulted in a continuing dialog between different groups or individuals and the institute.
The institute has from the beginning worked to establish public archives of registered clothing, photos and many other sources in addition to a collection of modern day bunads. That is why NBF travels around the country, to do fieldwork, to interview bearers and to visit places of traditional, small-scale production. The institute is therefore an important source for bearers, researchers and others to find materials and information concerning bunad and folk costumes.
In other words; the NBF has since the beginning been entirely depended on a good and respectful dialog and cooperation with knowledgeable individuals and communities. This relationship has been, and still is, inter-dependable. Usually the initiative to do fieldwork comes from these local groups, with a request to NBF for assistance. In such cases, a very fruitful cooperation begins, where NBF brings experience and equipment necessary for fieldwork. The community brings together bearers and people with collections of clothes and knowledge of the tradition. The owners will be given information about the institute and its work, then, the owner can decide whether the registration of each piece of clothing is to be public or classified. When the registration is over, the clothes are returned to its owner with information about storage and preservation. If the owners themselves are bearers of the tradition, or are very knowledgeable, they are interviewed and encouraged to share their knowledge further.
In addition to documentation work, research and training, NBF also hosts or participates in several seminars, courses or conferences every year. The services that NBF offers, big or small, may be open for anyone, or made especially suited for certain groups. For example, NBF has developed courses specifically aimed at bunad-craftsmen and -women, at museum-workers, at fashion-students or university-students.