Photograph of Hansen’s bust in the Bergen Museum Garden
In the Museum Garden outside what was Bergens Museum stands a bust of Gerhard Armauer Hansen with the following inscription on the base:
Dr. Med. G. Armauer Hansen.
Discoverer of the leprosy bacillus.
Erected by colleagues and friends from across the world in 1901.
The bust is modelled by the sculptor Jo Visdal, and shows Hansen as he looked around the turn of the century. Today, he looks out over the ponds full of water lilies and other aquatic plants, but the bust has stood in at least two other locations in the garden in the past. When it was unveiled, it stood below the greenhouse, and later it stood at the front of the side wing towards Olaf Ryes vei and Parkveien.
In 1900, 28 people sent out an invitation for contributions to a portrait bust of Hansen. The original plan was for it to be carved in marble and unveiled at Lungegård Hospital on Hansen’s 60th birthday on 29 July 1901. After the Norwegian initiators received the approval of their colleagues abroad, an international committee was formed under the leadership of Rudolf Virchow, and the decision was made to cast the bust in bronze.
The bust was officially unveiled on 10 August 1901 by Professor Oscar Lassar of the University of Berlin. It was the first public memorial erected in Norway for scientific merit. The fact that Armauer Hansen was also the first person in Bergen to have his portrait displayed in the open air in his own lifetime was also quite the mark of honour.
When Armauer Hansen died in 1912, the urn with his ashes was interred under the plinth. However, as the bust has since been moved, there is some uncertainty about the location of the urn.