Museums Corner | Evolving monarchies, maritime history and mammoths
The 19th century proved to be very much the end of an era for many in Denmark.
Firstly, there was the monarchy, which made a smooth transition from absolute to constitutional status in 1849 under the watch of Frederik VII. We visit Jægerspris Castle, one of his homes, to find out more.
And then there was the navy, rudely awoken from its complacency by the 1808 firebombing of Copenhagen by the British, which started the century as a force to be reckoned with and ended it with a more realistic operation. The Royal Danish Naval Museum tells its story.
And finally, following the scientific world’s acceptance of the mammoth as a prehistoric species in 1796, the world couldn’t dig up enough of them – many of which can be viewed today, like ‘Dima’, the star exhibit at the Zoological Museum.
Royal Danish Naval Museum
Orlogsmuseet, Vandet 58, Cph K; open Tue-Sun 12:00-16:00, closed on Mon; free adm; www.orlogsmuseet.dk
For those of you who are interested in naval history, sea battles, warships, as well as maritime paintings, and have still not visited Royal Danish Naval Museum collection – now is the time to do so. Get yourself acquainted with Danish naval history right from the get-go, as you enter on the ground floor. Step aboard the warship replica that has been built indoors according to original drawings from the era. Don’t forget to bring your kids as they will undoubtedly enjoy exploring the warship and learning about the life of sailors back in the 18th and 19th centuries: their meals, their wardrobe, the penalties they incurred in the navy and much more.
As you progress to the first floor, a unique ship model collection is waiting for you. Considered to be a treasure of international scale, this historical collection presents a vast collection of naval ship models from the 17th to 20th century. Additionally, impressive dioramas of the Danish Royal Fleet and models of technical equipment are exhibited on the same floor. Crowning the exhibition, the second floor of the museum focuses on Danish naval history of the 19th and 20th centuries and presents a reconstructed middle section of the Killer Whale submarine, as well as many other exhibits.
The mystery of the mammoth
Zoological Museum, University Park 15, Cph Ø; open Tue to Sun, 10:00-17:00; tickets: 75kr, concessions available; www.zoologi.snm.ku.dk
The mammoth has fascinated people for many centuries. Not long ago, when tusks were excavated, along with other parts of the creature’s skeleton, it was believed they were the remains of elephants, but after some fully mummified examples were discovered, it became clear that this was a prehistoric animal. Mummies were largely discovered in places like Siberia, where permafrost conditions allowed corpses to be preserved especially well – and that is how they reached our age.
The Zoological Museum, located in the University Park, is currently showcasing the largest exhibition of such Ice Age discoveries, found in the Siberia region of Russia. The exhibition includes a mammoth family including kids, mammoth wool from 9000 years ago, a giant steppe mammoth, and the central exhibit: the mummified corpse of a baby mammoth, which was excavated in 1977, given the name of Dima, and remains practically intact due to the fact that it was buried in the permafrost for 40,000 years. In addition to this, the exhibition presents other amazing animals from the prehistoric era, such as woolly rhinos, cave bears, steppe bisons and others. To top it off, the exhibition includes a section dedicated to the works of Russian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva that depict the contemporary pursuit of valuable mammoth tusks among the Arctic peoples of northern Russian.
Jægerspris Castle, Slotsgården 20, Jægerspris – take the S-train to Frederikssund; open Tue-Sun 11:00-16:00; Tickets: 55kr; www.kongfrederik.dk
For those of you who, like me, initially thought that by visiting Rosenborg, Kronborg and the astounding Frederiksborg palaces we have covered pretty much all the former royal castles of major significance in the Copenhagen region, some quick research on the matter proves us to be utterly mistaken. There is such an abundance of castles and manor houses in and near Copenhagen that it never ceases to impress even the most tireless seekers of the royal historic landmarks. So if you are looking for a palace you have not yet been to, may I suggest you take a little field trip outside of Copenhagen to the beautiful town of Jægerspris.
Jægerspris Castle is associated with King Frederick VII, who is known not only for introducing a constitutional monarchy, but also for marriages that ended in scandal and divorce. The castle provided the monarch with tranquillity away from the controversy his divorces had caused.
Jægerspris Castle, which is also noted for its beautiful large park, is a significant work of baroque architecture, and it features a museum that mainly focuses on Frederik VII’s everyday life in the manor – his study, the audience room and the chambers of his morganatic wife Countess Danner are carefully preserved in accordance with the era.