New Museum > Background
On this page we would like to tell you about the background for establishing a new museum in the Botanical Garden and give you answers to the questions why, where, how and what?:
How to approach this matter?
(Including films from previous competitions)
The Natural History Museum is one of the world's largest natural history museums with around 14 million objects in the collections (plants, animals, fossils, minerals, etc.). The first collections were founded in the 1650s, which makes the museum one of the oldest in the world.
Thus the history of the museum stretches back several hundred years, despite the fact that the Natural History Museum was established on January 1, 2004 through a merger of the four traditional institutions: the Botanic Garden, the Botanical Museum and Library, the Geological Museum and the Zoological Museum. The Natural History Museum is now a department under the Faculty of Science of the University of Copenhagen, and the museum now consists of the Zoological Museum, the Geological Museum and the Botanical Garden.
The Natural History Museum is also a national main museum in line with the National Gallery and the National Museum. Through its role as an institute under the University the museum is also one of the nation's leading scientific research institutions and publishes nearly 400 scientific articles and books annually. The museum houses two basic research centres and is a partner in another two centres, which both have departments at the museum. Both now and in future, the Natural History Museum will rearm its work as to public outreach and secure the population better access to the cultural and natural heritage that is kept in museum collections.
Natural history and natural science is man's approach to understanding and describing himself and the surrounding world. Based on the qualities and central location of the Botanical Garden and the museum's unique collections, a museum will be created that is unique in the world. Together with the National Gallery and the National Museum, the natural history museum will stand out as one of Denmark's three main museums, which is recognized internationally for its strong academic skills, its great collections and its innovative public outreach.
Natural history and science are, in other words, a central and for ever topical discipline, which should be part of common education. Therefore, natural history also deserves the right physical setting, which can support its position in society and do the multitude of natural history riches justice.
The Botanical Garden is centrally located in the heart of Copenhagen. The neighbours are the National Gallery, Rosenborg Castle, The David Collection, The Hirschsprung Collection and the Cinematheque. It provides a unique opportunity to create a "green" joint museum district. Nørreport and Østerport stations give easy and simple access to the museum from all over the country. The Natural History Museum has already both exhibitions and collections located in buildings at the Botanical Garden; this applies to the Geological Museum. But the existing buildings cannot accommodate all functions, nor are they built to the desires and expectations of a modern audience. Therefore it is time for new ideas - both within the framework of the existing buildings and in the form of new constructions.
To get the best possible start and to ensure a good foundation with support from the public and good ideas for the new museum the Natural History Museum arranged an open design competition in the spring of 2009. The aim was to clarify how the museum best uses the existing buildings and may build new with regard for the garden - but just as importantly, how the collections may be incorporated in new and surprising ways.
The idea competition was open to everybody, and 120 architects, designers, artists and people from home and abroad participated. A total of 10 proposals were awarded. A first and a second prize were awarded and an additional eight proposals were purchased. First prize went to the architect Claus Pryds, and the jury report with an evaluation of the winning project and the other nine rewarded proposals can be seen here and is complemented by a presentation film about the idea competition 2009 (in Danish).
You can also watch movie clips from the launching of the open idea competition (also in Danish) and hear more about the background for the establishment of a new museum.
By launching a school competition the Natural History Museum also took the initiative to involve Denmark’s pupils, who are an important part of the museum's contemporary and future audiences. In the movie about the school competition (in Danish), you can see the interesting ideas that came from this project.
The competitions mentioned above are completed and now pave the way for a project competition.
|Film about the school competition||Film about the idea competition|
The next step was the launching of a real project competition. The competition was supported financially by The Obel Family Foundation and was launched the 24th of November 2011. The winning project was announced on the 31st of May 2012.
The architects were given many clues and guidelines in the competition brief to help them in their work, but basically it can be said that the overall aim was to achieve an overall building complex in symbiosis with the Botanical Garden and at a high international standard to present the many thousands of rare and valuable specimens; in addition to create a place of research with ideal working conditions for a large number of employees, and finally, to secure adequate storage conditions for all the specimens that are not displayed in the exhibitions.
The interest in the museum project is and has been overwhelming. More than 50 Danish and international teams applied to be among the six teams to participate in the contest. Each of the selected teams received a fee of DKK 500,000, and the winner was awarded additionally DKK 500,000. You can read about the winning project here.
Now a series of phases follows including a planning and construction period before a new museum will be ready in 2017.
Parallel to the establishment of the new museum the Natural History Museum has received 17 million DKK from A.P. Møller and Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller's Foundation for General Purposes for an extensive renovation of the Botanical Garden. The renovation includes an extension of the garden with the opening of the area around the old observatory, the path system will be improved, so that walking-impaired people may get around the whole garden, a series of old bunkers from World War II has been torn down and several existing beds will get more light and air.