By Jørgen Selmer, Museum Director, Trade and Maritime Museum.
A new maritime museum will soon be built in Denmark. It will reflect Denmark's historical and contemporary role as one of the world's leading maritime nations.
The location of the museum is unique, the building is designed by the architects BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group and will be guided by brand new exhibition principles which are currently being developed.
The museum stands together with its 'neighbors', Kronborg the "Culture Yard", and the new cultural center of the municipality of Helsingør which combines local, national and international, linking past, present and future - just as a museum should.
Why a new maritime museum?
Denmark is an old seafaring nation. Maritime activity has always been, and remains an essential part of the Danish livelihood. Maritime transport has been largely based on the Danish international orientation and has been a major factor in trade and profit, and cultural influences.
When we talk about maritime history, probably the best ideas came from the Vikings, from sailing ships in the 1700 -1800 's to the 1950s bustling shipping immortalized in popular comedy films. The explosive increase in interest for recreational boating has apparently not increased the interest in and knowledge of modern shipping. Today, when much of shipping activity takes place far from the Danish coasts, there are not many people who are aware of how important a part of our everyday life and economy is associated with shipping.
Container traffic has been mentioned quite a lot in the media lately, so it will probably surprise many people that 90% of the products we surround ourselves with in everyday life are transported by sea and the Danish shipping industry accounts for one container in ten shipped worldwide. Directly and indirectly employing 100,000 shore and seagoing personnel, or 6% of the private workforce.
This is the situation today, and the relative importance is not less when we go back in history. It is therefore clear that Denmark and the Danish culture and our livelihood can not be understood without the knowledge about Denmark as a maritime nation for centuries in the global context.
The topic is indeed no stranger to the museums and are part of a series of local history museums and maritime museums across the country and as far back as 1915 in the Trade and Maritime Museum at Kronborg Castle, which is the nationwide state-approved museum for civil merchant. The museum's content is located in the in time extension of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde and thus covers the period from the 1400s to the present day, with special emphasis on the last 100 years of seafaring.
The museum's collections are considered to be among the worlds most prestigious, despite the fact that a large part of the collections are not on display.
When you see the Museum at Kronborg today it lives up to the modern requirements of exciting museum dissemination and involvement of the audience. It matches its appearance in a way other leading maritime nations national maritime museums do.
The current museum, located in the old Renaissance castle Kronborg, has major shortcomings in terms of sufficient area to display and have spatial volume to conduct sessions and display of recent maritime history. The museum lacks its own visual, architectural identity and the possibility of using frames and content to attract children and young people and to act as ambassador and a window to the maritime world.
The museum's role is to attract people's interest and engage them in maritime history.