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photo: Pexels / Joanna Bu

Denmark’s past is rotting away in its museums

Poor storage facilities and a wetter climate mean that mould is destroying cultural heritage.

Mould and decay are getting the better of artefacts from the past that are hidden away in Denmark’s increasingly musty museums, the broadcaster DR Nyheder and the Copenhagen Post report.

Changes in the climate and declining funding in recent years have seen an increase in wetter conditions – and damp in older buildings – meaning that Danish museums are fighting a losing battle when it comes to preserving the country’s cultural heritage.

Many of the storage areas used by museums are not fit for the purpose. Often they are in old buildings such as redundant schools, cellars, attics and even barns, which lack the air conditioning systems necessary to control the temperature and keep away the damp.

Permanently lost
In the last three years, mould has been discovered in 118 storage facilities around Denmark. Roskilde Museum is a typical example, where up to 70,000 items are in danger of being permanently lost.

As with the parallel issue of declining visitor numbers, this is not a new problem. In 2007 and again in 2014, the national auditors Rigsrevisionen sounded the alarm to the Culture Ministry, according to the media reports.

Politicians and state funders are not taking the matter seriously enough, thinks Nils M Jensen, the head of the association of Danish museums.

But museums cannot expect financial relief from the culture ministry any time soon, the minister Mette Bock responded, saying, “I must make it clear that there is no extra money for museums this year.”

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