100-year-old mystery package to “benefit and delight future generations” opened in Norway

By Mike Hiestand, Houstory Publishing Founder

So, I just watched a livestream of a “mysterious” 100-year-old package being opened after being stored in a Norwegian museum for all these years.

The Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang, said the package dates back to Aug. 26, 1912, when it was delivered by a local man named Johan Nygard, along with a note saying not to open it for 100 years and that its contents would “benefit and delight future generations.”

Timing — as they say — is everything, and the worldwide interest sparked by this small, indescript package was in no doubt helped by its 2012 delivery date. Let’s be honest: It seems like the world today could use a few “benefits and delights.”

So the Norwegian city of Sel took full advantage of the spotlight. As the event was shown live on Norwegian TV and streamed over the Internet, a full auditorium watched an unveiling ceremony that included emcees clad in traditional Norwegian dress, musical performances, dancing and the mayor with a pair of scissors to cut the package’s twine before turning it over to white-gloved historians to do the official opening.

(Note: I’m not going to SPOIL the surprise here. To find out what the package contained, I’ll let you click on the video link above.)

What is it about time capsules?

Certainly, much of it is just human curiosity, a powerful force.

But I think just as powerful as our curiosity to know what was in Mr. Nygard’s package was the desire of Mr. Nygard to know that we — living people  — would be opening his gift so many generations later, after his initial act was mostly forgotten. And boy did he succeed! From more than 5,000 miles away I watched along with a worldwide audience to see what Johan Nygard left for us.

Leaving a legacy — something that says “I was here” is, I think, a basic human instinct. Whether it’s hieroglyphics on a cave wall, a pyramid, a personal journal, a note scribbled in a family cookbook or letters or photos left in the walls  during home renovations (please, get a Home History Book  archival journal instead!)  — time capsules come in all shapes and sizes. And all are a treat. Whether you are the one who finds the time capsule — or as Johan Nygard might be thinking today — the person who left it.