The new museum will cost a total of DKK 950 million and is scheduled to open in 2020. In addition to new exhibitions, the museum will also house research and teaching facilities together with storage for a substantial proportion of Denmark's 14 million natural history specimens. 

BY RIKKE SANDERHOFF MØRCH

Rikke Sanderhoff Mørch (b. 1969) is Chief Communications Officer at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Before her appointment to the museum in 2009, she worked in communication and marketing at institutions such as the Royal Danish Theatre. In the period 2008-2012, she was also attached to Copenhagen Business School as an external associate professor in strategic communication.

Project: A new national museum of natural history

Grantee: Natural History Museum of Denmark

Amount: DKK 250m from VILLUM FONDEN

The project is also supported by The Obel Family Foundation, The Novo Nordisk Foundation, Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond, University of Copenhagen, the Danish Government

The nation's history

Denmark has one of the oldest natural history museums in the world. Since the 1650s, explorers, sailors and merchants have brought home spectacular finds from around the globe, amassing a large and diverse collection of 14 million natural history specimens. This treasure trove testifes not only to the evolution and diversity of life on Earth, it also tells the story of Denmark as a nation, of its history and development over the centuries. This story helps us to understand the world around us, and will enable present and future generations to relate, in an informed and critical manner, to common scientific concerns. 

The museum in the garden

With its unique siting with the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen, the museum will beneft from unique opportunities for combining outdoor and indoor visitor experiences. The garden and buildings and outside and inside will merge as one to engage visitors in world-class experiences to inspire both mind and soul. The aim is for the museum to provide a setting for visits to take in not only the exhibits, but also a tour of the Botanical Garden and enjoy a lunch and the scenic surroundings.

A key element of the new museum will be to provide a new urban space for the beneft of not only visitors but passers-by too. From the Sølvtorvet side, a suspended glassed walkway will provide a peek into the whale hall, taking the casual passer-by through the great lobby and out into the Botanical Garden and on to Nørreport station. Passage through the complex requires no admission ticket, meaning that the public can appreciate the exhibits and enjoy a trip through the Botanical Garden en route to other destinations.

The new museum is to be a source of amazement, enlightenment, education and enjoyment. With its unique co-location with the Botanical Garden in Copenhagen, the museum will benefit from unique opportunities for combining outdoor and indoor and above-ground and underground visitor experiences. Photo: Birgitte Rubæk

Science in a new setting

In a number of fields, the museum's researchers are world leaders, and in fields such as geogenetics, the origin of life and biodiversity, rank among the absolute international elite. However, bright minds, creativity and curiosity do not do it alone. Facilities and equipment must also be first rate in order to deliver results. To that end, the museum will be equipped with state-of-the-art research and laboratory facilities. The storage facilities will be upgraded to the highest standard so that the collections that constitute the museum's research material can also be used by future generations. 

New exhibitions

The museum will be visitor-oriented. Mounting interesting exhibitions capable of attracting visitors from far and wide, being on hand to take questions and talk to the general public constitute the whole raison d'être for a contemporary national museum. With this new institution, we gain the ideal physical setting for innovative exhibitions and public outreach to communicate the museum's research and natural history treasures. In the new exhibitions, natural science will be staged and communicated in thought-provoking and original ways engaging both children and adults and providing space for reflection and discussion.

The museum's iconic exhibition space will be the great whale hall, where a broad cross-section of the museum's comprehensive collections of whale skeletons will be on show. The working titles for new exhibitions include The Solar System, Dynamic Earth, Denmark's Natural World, Biodiversity, Evolution and Greenland. When the new museum opens, visitor figures are expected to increase from 180,000 in 2014 to more than 400,000 per annum. In addition, the tourist share over a 10-year period is expected to go up from 2% to 33%. 

A foundation for the future 

Letting your fngers skim the spines of a hedgehog or sensing the intense heat of a tropical climate. Or studying rare fossils under a microscope and being astonished by the skeleton of a ground sloth. Such experiences make an impression, and fuel the desire to enter the world of science. These are experiences not only to arouse curiosity, but may spur a lifelong appreciation of the natural world, and choice of educational and career path.

Thousands of schoolchildren visit the museum each year, and the exhibitions are used in their education. In recent years, the museum has extended its services to 6th-form colleges in the capital and the provinces, and is now Denmark's largest provider of upper secondary educational services. At the new natural history museum, pupils, students and teachers will gain even better opportunities for exploring the institution's research and scientifc materials.