#4 Step Back In Time – Visiting Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus, Denmark

To tell you the truth, we were not very lucky with the weather during our stay in Aarhus.  It was pretty awful in fact – cold wind, snow or sleet (or both at once) and thick fog. This is why we decided on some indoor activity. After a short chat with Rasmus, an IPC Alumni and our host in Aarhus, we came with an idea of visiting the Moesgaard Museum – undoubtedly one of the best museums in Denmark and a place with two Michelin stars (no, not according to Restaurants&Hotels Red Guide but the Michelin Attraction’s Guide). Even I – not the biggest fan of museums of archeology or ethnography – have to admit that after 5 minutes, my jaw went slack and I absolutely fell in love with the place.

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Let me begin from the architecture. Moesgaard Museum (in short called MOMU) is uniquely situated in the rolling rural landscape of Skåde, south of Aarhus. With its sloping roofscape of grass, moss and brightly-colored wild flowers, the building is a powerful visual landmark recognizable even

from the sea. The rectangle-shaped roof appears to be emerging from under the ground into the crisp Danish daylight. During summer it will become an area for picnics, barbeques, outdoor lectures and traditional Midsummer Day’s bonfires. Come winter snowfall, the sloping roof will transform into the city’s best sledding hill. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the diverse use of this smart building far exceeds of what we expect.  But it’s not just that. Entering the museum, it is immediately obvious, we found ourselves in a place, where new technology and artifacts meet in order to bring the story of the prehistoric world to life in an interesting and engrossing way.

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Another, very significant thing is in my opinion the evolution stairway. It is placed at the entrance to the main prehistory exhibition and features astonishingly lifelike models of human evolution – including ‘Lucy’, who walked the Earth three million years ago and the Danish Koelbjerg Woman, from the Stone Age. And last but not least world famous Grauballe Man – the body of a man discovered in a bog thousands of years after he perished that is the central piece of the museum’s Iron Age exhibition.

While it feels like you’re viewing the exhibits, you’re actually looking at a stunning digital reconstruction of the originals.  This is where the magic happens. Right in front of your eyes, the stairway fades away and you see the figures taken back to their natural habitat. The history becomes alive and the people in the exhibits step forward to provide the visitors with a better understanding of the past and an explanation what path we have taken to find ourselves, where we are today. One of the main aims of MOMU, is to immerses its guests in history.  Visitor can move through a vivid sequence of exhibitions and scientific experiments – like a traveler in time and space.

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The heart of the building is the foyer, which also holds a café with outdoor seating. From the foyer, the terraced underworld opens up to the light from the roof garden and the impressive view of the Aarhus Bay. Architecture, nature, culture and history fuse together in a captivating and stimulating way for all age groups – the children, the parents and the grandparents. There is something for everyone regardless of their point of departure. For example, children love being able to collect replicas of amulets and pendants from previous eras and use them to interact with exhibits in order to hear stories of people from the past. Adults, instead of just staring at the exhibits in glass cabinets, are encouraged to glimpse inside houses through small windows, or walk into a ‘wooded areas’ and discover Viking treasure.

Summing up, we had a great afternoon discovering and learning about Danish history and culture. Definitely recommended place to visit when in Aarhus.

Magdalena – 2018 Spring term volunteer