The Natural History Museum of Denmark is in a state of transformation. Today, four small university museums make up one, comprehensive, national museum of natural history, one of Denmark’s three main museums.
In a few years’ time, we will be even bigger, when we consolidate all our activities in Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens. Here, visitors will be able to choose from: a fascinating voyage of discovery in the gardens; a stroll through the beautiful, Victorian Palm House; or a close encounter with some of our 14 million objects from the national collections in both the Geological Museum and the huge, new museum building, which will be constructed in the course of the next few years in a corner of the Botanical Gardens.
Our research, teaching and dissemination are rooted in an inquisitive exploration of the universe, the solar system, the Earth, the origin and evolution of living nature, and the complex interaction between nature and mankind. The origin of everything started about 13.8 billion years ago, when the universe began with the Big Bang. Earth was formed somewhat later, about 4.6 billion years ago, and the earliest traces of life stored here at the Museum are about 3.8 billion years old. Life on Earth had plenty of time to evolve before our own ancestor, Homo sapiens, appeared in the African Savannah about 200,000 years ago.
For billions of years, Earth was transformed by the forces of nature. But the rules of the game have changed. In the course of a few centuries, mankind became an all-powerful force of change on Earth. The choices we make today can determine the living conditions on Earth for the next several thousand years.
The new era of mankind sets a new agenda for all of us. In terms of a museum such as ours, this means that our task is not merely to collect, explore and disseminate our knowledge about the nature of the past, the present and the future. We must, and will, help provide the very best scientific foundation so that, together, we can tackle the climatic and biological challenges we face, both locally and globally.
Every year, more than 180,000 people visit the Zoological Museum and the Geological Museum. Just fewer than 30,000 of them are school and high school pupils. In 2016, during the summer months alone, the Botanical Gardens received more than 300,000 visitors. Though this is an impressive number, we will gladly welcome even more. We are a museum for the whole of Denmark. And for our myriad citizen science projects, which include bird ringing, the fungi atlas and ‘Det Store Naturtjek’ [English. The Big Nature Check], we need all the help we can get. There are lots of activities for you to get actively involved in, and there are going to be even more. What they all have in common is that everyone is welcome to take part.
Professor Peter C. Kjærgaard