2 November 2018

New organizational affiliation for Natural History Museum of Denmark


The Natural History Museum of Denmark will merge with the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Biology. The move guarantees the museum’s future as Denmark’s main natural history and secures the museum’s strong research environments.

The University of Copenhagen Rector, upon the recommendation of the Dean of the Faculty of Science, has decided to merge the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the Department of Biology. The work to implement the merger will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

"The is unique for the University of Copenhagen because we are required to live up to the laws that guide both the university and the museum. We must provide world class instruction, research and exhibitions, while maintaining the museum collections. This merger of the Natural History Museum and the Department of Biology will provide us with the best possible conditions for developing a new, modern museum, ensure its finances and involve the museum's researchers with student instruction," according to University of Copenhagen Rector, Henrik C. Wegener.

Researchers and museum under common management
Two reasons underlie the university’s decision, according to John Renner Hansen, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen.

"We will ensure the museum’s future, as Denmark’s main natural history museum, including its unique and internationally renowned collections. This is done by creating a sustainable organization and financial foundation for the museum. At the same time, we want to bring together and strengthen the research environments under professional management. One overarching requirement has been that we maintain close contact between researchers and the museum for the benefit of the museum’s collections and exhibitions. A combined leadership also strengthens our academic programmes, which will soon be able to draw from a larger pool of talented instructors."

The Natural History Museum of Denmark has run a significant financial deficit in recent years. In part, this is because its operational expenses have exceeded revenues, but it is also due to external appropriations being unable to cover the costs of its very high-profile research activities.

More money set aside for the museum
"The merger will boost faculty appropriations for museum operations. However, despite the extra allowance, we will not be able to avoid having to reduce museum staff. The extent of job cuts will depend on how voluntary resignation, pension and other initiatives turn out. The entire process will be discussed in the museum’s local collaboration committee," says John Renner Hansen.

Following the merger, the museum will be a unit with its own management and budget, but under the Department of Biology. The museum will continue to be the link between scientific research and the general public. Thus, the museum will continue to draw from knowledge generated across the Faculty of Science, as well as the University of Copenhagen as a whole.

While research groups will be under the auspices of the Department of Biology in the future, they will not experience major changes in their daily research activities. Physically, research groups will continue to be situated where they are today and continue to have access to both the museum collections and their current research facilities.