Through its Museums Programme, VELUX FONDEN aims to promote collaboration between museums and universities. Read on for insights into how three of this programme's projects have opened the door to the wide world of the humanities.

With grants from VELUX FONDEN, three exhibitions have explored how water transport in the Viking Age, modern industrialisation and institutionalised care have shaped our everyday lives. 

The exhibitions were created by researchers and mediators from universities and museums. The two allied their skills in reframing cultural and historical outreach narratives. 

Commenting on the programme's ambitions, Henrik Tronier, head of programme had this to say: "The purpose of the Museums Programme is to create a space where research and out-reach capacities can meet to jointly diffuse humanities research to a wider audience. In supporting this inter-institutional collaboration, we are seeking to forge closer links between research and outreach so that instead of remaining isolated, they synergise their efforts."

Platform for research and outreach

With a desire to promote Danish museums' mediation of humanities  research as well as the research itself, in 2015 VELUX FONDEN created a special museums programme. Through close dialogue and based on the museums' own inputs, since the programme was launched it has funded 19 research projects and grants totalling DKK 88 million. The focus of the projects is highly diversified, ranging from exhibitions on the robotics industry to the earliest urbanisation of Denmark. Common to all of them is the  collaboration between university and museum researchers as well as museum mediators.

Collaboration sheds light on welfare and democracy

On the programme's many innovative projects, Henrik Tronier had this to say: "We are very pleased to have been involved in facilitating all the fascinating exhibitions to have come out of the programme so far. It is inspiring to see how the participants behind the projects have brought great creativity to conveying complex subject matter in new contexts.

It is also interesting to discover how the link between academia and museums can result in entirely new modes of inter-institutional partnering." In addition to boosting the interaction between research and outreach, according to executive director at VELUX FONDEN, Ane Hendriksen, the Museums Programme also draws attention to the stories behind a modern democratic society: "Through the granted projects, young and adult visitors alike have gained insights into the many fascinating and dramatic stories underlying contemporary society. In this way, the programme is also an extension of VELUX FONDEN's overall aim of '... strengthening the Danish democratic society on an informed, inclusive and sustainable basis.'"

Explore the workings behind the three exhibitions to learn how researchers and mediators have brought exciting stories to life from the academic disciplines that deal with humanity, culture and society.

Through educational programmes, visitors to Odense City Museums can enjoy a hands-on experience of modern industry.
Photo: Ole Lund Jensen

The robots are coming 2017 - 2021

At Odense City Museums, the 'Industry in the 21st Century' concept was to update our appreciation of what industry actually means today by focusing, for instance, on the importance of the robotics industry for Danish manufacturing, and inviting visitors to design their own robot.

"For us, this was about the art of designing an exhibition to highlight that industry is more than steam engines and gas lamps, but has evolved into a more abstract dimension of state-of-the-art technologies.

As a point in case, advances in the robotics industry were used to frame a series of educational programmes for visiting secondary school pupils. In these programmes, the pupils were tasked with designing their own robots in order to gain a sense of the complex work done by robotics engineers. The programmes have largely been based on the project's thorough research, which has allowed us to give visitors a whole new take on what industry is and does today," says Dyveke Skov  Larsen, curator of Møntergården cultural heritage museum in Odense.

A bureau displaying mementos from Danish orphanages gives visitors a firsthand impression of a difficult time.
Photo: Danmarks Forsorgsmuseum/Jon Bjarni Hjartarsson

Welfare narratives and joint outreach 2015 - 2019

The Danish Welfare Museum's exhibition 'Welfare Stories from the Edge' focuses on the life of socially at-risk citizens in Denmark. 

The exhibition explores how former wards of the state have coped with their experiences of being taken into care in Danish orphanages. Head of Department, Sarah Smed had this to say about the project: "Our ambition was to create an exhibition that didn't just force a fixed format on the highly individual and complex stories people had to tell. To that end, the university researchers' contribution was hugely important in that they not only produced the content for the exhibition, but assisted in incorporating the experiences and reflections of former wards of the state. 

For example, by redacting their recorded and unrecorded memories of their childhood in institutional care. One exhibit we created was a bureau displaying physical mementos of their time in care. By opening the bureau, the public were drawn personally into recollections of what was in many cases a difficult and traumatic time. In this  way, our close collaboration with the researchers made it possible to mount an exhibition centred around the sources and their personal experiences." 

The impressive ghost ship lights up Kertinge Nor fjord.
Photo: Østfyns Museer/Emil Andresen

Ghost ship on Kertinge Nor 2016 - 2021

For the project ’From central space to urban space’, the collaboration between researchers and mediators from a number of Funen museums generated great interest in Viking Age water transport on Kertinge Nor fjord. East Funen Museums (Østfyns Museer) have successfully presented the key role of shipping traffic through Kertinge Nor by sailing a ghost ship rendered in water and light through the fjord. 

"The research was an important platform for our outreach programme. Among other things, archaeological digs at the sites of Munkebo Bakke and Ladby revealed that a prince had controlled the waters of Kertinge Nor and trading via the fjord. So this was a real traffic and trade hub the Viking prince controlled. We conveyed that story by means of a ghost ship rendered in water and light, illustrating how the fjord had once served as a 'motorway'. Successful execution of this exhibit raised awareness and local pride in the story and the project as a whole. In that way, by linking research and public outreach, we succeeded in raising awareness both in and beyond the local community, while the viking grave on show at the Viking Museum in Ladby attracted a surge of interest after the tie-in visit of the ghost ship," says curator of East Funen Museums Nicolai Knudsen

For further information, please contact:

Henrik Tronier
Senior Adviser, Head of programme, VELUX FONDEN
+ 45 29 41 79 07