20 March 2015

New director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark


The new director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen will be Professor Peter C. Kjærgaard, currently Professor of Evolutionary Studies and director of the Centre for Biocultural History at Aarhus University and formerly of the University of Cambridge and Harvard University. He takes up the post on 1 June 2015.

Peter C. Kjærgaard. Foto: Nikolaj Lund.

Peter C. Kjærgaard. Foto: Nikolaj Lund.

- I’m delighted to welcome Professor Peter C. Kjærgaard as the new director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. These are exciting times for the 400 staff as we establish ourselves on the new site at the Botanical Garden, and I’m sure that we have found the right person to head up such a major project, says John Renner Hansen, Dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.

Peter C. Kjærgaard is renowned as an expert communicator of natural history knowledge. His work includes the permanent evolution exhibition at the Zoological Museum and “Meet the Family”,  an exhibition about human evolution at the new Moesgaard Museum.  He is an internationally recognised academic expert in evolutionary history and human development as well as a dynamic, active communicator and well-known public figure. Professor Kjærgaard brings great professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm to the museum.

- The Natural History Museum of Denmark is already an amazing place. The framework provided by the big new site in the Botanical Garden in the heart of Copenhagen provides a unique opportunity to provide Denmark with everything a national natural history museum should be, Peter C. Kjærgaard says.

- We are now in a position to realise the dream of one big, complete museum that brings together and makes the most of all of our outstanding research, teaching and collections. We will, of course, face many challenges, but the new set-up will also ultimately provide the ideal conditions for our work. I look forward to working on this hugely ambitious endeavour along with  our greatest asset – the highly talented staff at the museum. I also look forward to working with the museum’s neighbours, partners and the Danish foundations that help fund its work, he adds.

 Peter C. Kjærgaard. Foto: Nikolaj Lund / Folkeuniversitetet i Aarhus.

Peter C. Kjærgaard. Foto: Nikolaj Lund / Folkeuniversitetet i Aarhus.

Research and outreach

The Natural History Museum is a leading international centre of natural history research and houses three national basic-research centres and a wide range of research activities based on its collections of more than 14 million objects. It is also a teaching and outreach hub for the Danish public, conveying knowledge about everything from the creation of the universe to the vast array of life on Earth, via the Botanical Garden and exhibitions at the Zoological Museum and Geological Museum.

- It is vital that the museum and the University work and interact closely with the rest of society. As researchers, we have clear tasks and duties with which the museum can and should help. But we also have an equally important responsibility to support science education in Denmark. The new museum can do even more to bring natural history to schools students and give them the tools to understand and use it. There is huge untapped potential in actively involving the general public in the acquisition of knowledge, the new director points out.

- The Natural History Museum is Denmark’s national museum – it belongs to all Danes. But it’s bigger than that. Our collections represent a unique international resource. We want to encourage a global shift in the way that natural history museums are perceived and used. The museum must be an international asset for understanding and solving some of the major challenges we face in relation to climate change and loss of biodiversity.

- Throughout my research career, I have worked in interdisciplinary and integrated research, communication and education. When used effectively, all three of these areas boost and enrich each other. The new museum and its huge collections will let us do this on a national scale. I can’t imagine a more exciting challenge, he concludes.

Peter C. Kjærgaard
Aarhus University
E-mail: kjaergaard@cas.au.dk
Mobile: +4542660084

Rikke Mørch
Head of Communications
The Natural History Museum of Denmark
University of Copenhagen
E-mail: rsm@snm.ku.dk
Mobile: +4530506621

Joakim Groth
Head of Communications
Faculty of Science
University of Copenhagen
E-mail: jog@science.ku.dk
Mobile: +4528754286