Moesgaard Museum is one of our most favourite places in Aarhus. It is a museum which has an archaeological and ethnographic focus.
We visit every time we come to Aarhus, but this time was quite special as the exhibitions have a new home since our last visit. We had seen the design plans for the new architecturally designed museum building which opened in October last year, and were very excited to return to see how it had turned out.
The building itself is impressive .. especially as visitors have access to a grass covered roof to enjoy the view of the surrounding forest, the ocean, and the lovely Moesgaard Manor – the previous home of the museum.
However, on entering the entrance foyer one immediately comes face-to-face with the ancestors of the human race. Displayed on the staircase is a unique collection of anatomically precise models of human species reconstructed from scientifically researched archaeological finds of bones from around the world. One is able to walk right up to, and around them, and obtain a sense of where we have come from. Information on each was displayed, but unfortunately I did not record the details.
Standing sentinel at the exhibition entrance
One of 'The Family'
One of 'The Family'
One of 'The Family'
One of 'The Family'
Also on the staircase are precise reconstructions of Paul Gurrumurruwuy (an Aboriginal Australian) and Stephen Hawking (the internationally acclaimed British physicist), with a very effective animated visual of water falling down the staircase with messages of where humans have come from and where we are going.
Paul Gurrumurruwuy-an Aboriginal Australian, and Stephen Hawking
Words of wisdom .. past
Words of wisdom - future
Words of wisdom .. our reason for being here.
It is a stunning display .... and we haven't entered the exhibition areas yet!!
The Danes are exceptionally good at bringing museums alive. . We have visited several living museums where people actually perform the tasks and recreate the living conditions of a past time. But here at Moesgaard, they have very effectively used modern technology and multi-media with narratives, and settings with light, sounds and animations to display the lives of the species of the past.
The exhibitions are amazing ... not only due to the quality of materials used to display, the impressive quality and skilful presentation of the artefacts from around the world, and the opportunity to actively participate through video or audio presentations, ... but it is also the very subtle details that may go unnoticed (for example background music or narration) which add tremendously to the sense that one is experiencing something exceptional.
At a cost of AU$76,500,000 for the building, and a further AU$14,500,000 for the exhibitions, it is clear that this is an investment for the future.
The displays are broadly grouped as Bronze Age, Iron Age and Viking Age. The number, and quality of the artefacts presented, was excellent.
The exhibition include three Bronze Age graves dating back to about 1350 BC found in a town not far from Aarhus, the bodies of which lay in coffins of hollowed out oak tree trunks. Amazingly, the hair of one is still intact, as is the woven fabric in which they were buried.
Also on show is the 2,300 year old Grauballe Man, the world's best preserved bog body which was uncovered in 1952 from a peat bog near the village of Grauballe. It is the body of an adult male, aged 34 years, which dates from the late 3rdC BC during the Iron Age. The wounds on the body graphically illustrate that he was most likely killed by having his throat cut. His body was then placed into the bog where it was naturally preserved for over 2 thousand years. .This is one of the best preserved bog bodies every recorded. . The research conducted on the body was extensive as as no entire bog body had ever been preserved before. . The body has been on display in the museum since 1955. . We had seen this amazing exhibit in the old museum and had been looking forward to seeing it presented in its new home.
The Grauballe man
Up close and personal
Multi-media exhibition area
Bronze age arm bracelets and neck jewellery
Example of animated exhibition displaying everyday life
This (animated) exhibition depicted the development of Aarhus. Shown here is the Cathedral (Domkirke) juxtaposed with the modern day Magasin department store.
Unique audio headphones .. a sight more scary than the one behind.
The 'Viking Age' interactive display provides an opportunity to journey by boat with the Vikings from Aros – the former name of the city of Aarhus. It brings the lives and times to life by following the destiny of seven passengers - a queen, a bishop, an adventurer, a merchant, an elderly woman, a child and his father. . The visitor chooses a key which is fitted with an electronic chip and linked to one of the characters. You then follow their personal story which is dramatised through the use of audio, film, and images. The models are lifelike and beautifully crafted and the attention to detail is exceptional.
One of the Seven Vikings
When writing my blog I usually do additional research so I can provide accurate information and terminology on the particular topic about which I am writing. In my google search of the new museum I came across an article in 'Antiquity Journal' written by an archaeologist, relating his experience of his visit to the museum. [[http://goo.gl/vJLe7z]Antiquity Journal] . I encourage you to have a look at his excellent photos (including the Bronze Age graves I mentioned above), and read his very interesting overview.
In his article he said "In any case, the sheer scale of the museum is prohibitive to description, so I will focus on impressions". . I agree. .It is impossible to share everything with you, which is why I've only mentioned a few of the exhibitions and artefacts. . You can come to the museum to learn much about the archaeological history of Denmark, and you will. . But the experience is much more than facts ... it is about the whole, which includes the emotional and sensory experience also. It is exceptional.
On our visit we did not even get to see all of the permanent exhibitions. . I have not mentioned the temporary exhibition currently being hosted . The First Emperor – China’s Terracotta Army. . Of course this is a must see ... . a visit for another day.