A visit to Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus

During the COVI19 pandemic, the borders were closed and travel to foreign countries was impossible. However, that gave me the opportunity to revisit one of me favourite Danish museums in Aarhus – Moesgaard Museum.

The museum’s new building opened in 2014 and it shows both in the architecture and the exhibitions. The standard is extremely high and rivals any museum I have visited around the world. In the main hall, you follow the stairs down to the permanent exhibition. While descending the steps you can true-to-life size models of our ancestors.

The permanent exhibit focuses on the Danish bronze and iron age using both text and audio/video narration. The whole place is eerie dark but never transforms into an unpleasant atmosphere. The surroundings lend very well to the exhibited artefacts and the audio/visual narrations.

One of Denmarks perhaps best know artefacts is the mummified remains of a man’s body from around 200-400 BC. He was found in 1952 and is known as Grauballemanden. He had a violent end, but it is unknown whether he was murdered or killed as part of a sacrifice.

Grauballemanden

Temporary exhibition: Bound for Disaster – Pompeii and Herculaneum

During our visit, we got a chance to see the temporary exhibition ‘Bound for Disaster‘ that exhibits artefacts from the two Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Both towns were covered in ash and debris from a volcano eruption in AD 79.

Most of the exhibit, like the rest of Moesgaard, have very little lighting, which makes it a bit difficult to take photos. However, it also adds to the sombre mood of the exhibition and the tragic events it covers. At the entrance to the exhibit, visitors are greeted by a ship’s ram. It belongs to a Roman galley that sunk during the disaster. It seems to have been used since there is still a piece of wood stuck to it.

After moving through the exhibition and learning about the ancient Roman society, the people, their homes and workshops, visitors enter a dark room covered in darkness and a ceiling with sprinkling stars. Here you find the moulds of the dead. The inhabitants of the two towns Pompeii and Herculaneum that were entombed in ash from the volcano’s eruption. Over time, they decayed, leaving voids which archaeologists found could be used as moulds to make plaster casts of unique — and often gruesome — figures in their final moments of life.

Moesgaard Museum offers both a fantastic introduction to ancient Denmark, with interesting audio/visual experiences, but hosts world-class temporary exhibitions. If you find yourself near Aarhus in Jutland you should definitely give Moesgaard a visit!