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The most important room in the world

The security storage of seed at Svalbard

28. Jan 2016 - 04. Sep 2016

The exhibition "The Most Important Room in the World" tells us about the world's largest security storage for seeds, located 1300km north of the Arctic Circle, Svalbard. Here seeds from around the world are stored in dry and cold halls. The vault opened in 2008, and in 2010 the number of samples passed 500,000, making it the largest collection of food seeds worldwide.

There are many gene banks in the world, but most of them are in politically or economically unstable parts, or in areas exposed to natural disasters. The seed vault in Svalbard is therefore a security stock of the world's gene banks.

In September 2015 the first gene bank used their safety stock from the vault on Svalbard. The gene bank in Aleppo had been damaged by the war, and was therefore sent 116,000 seeds they had previously deposited in the vault. This was species adapted to drought areas in the Middle East, including varieties of wheat, barley and grass.


We need to take care of most biological materials, not only different species but also genetic diversity within each species. Gene banks therefore contains not only what we describe as food- and beneficial plants but also their closest relatives. Without these varieties of seeds, species we depend on are in danger of being wiped out by either climate change, natural disasters, war or disease. Several gene variants makes us more resilient in the face of the future.

Examples of species there are seeds from in the seed vault on Svalbard are: rice, oats, angelica, timothy-grass, tagetes, marigold, peas, squash, dill, sunflower, flax, turnip and cress.