UNESCO World Heritage listed Jelling, with its rune stones and burial mounds, is one of the most important cultural-historical sites in Denmark. The new Royal Jelling exhibition centre covers more than 1000 square metres. It houses an exhibition that explores Danish history and mythology and, crucially, the mysteries of the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth. The centre presents new findings, which draw a complex picture of the Vikings, their culture and cults during their progressive shift from pagan religion to Christianity.
ART+COM Studios developed the overall design as well as individual media exhibits.
Royal Jelling is not a traditional archaeological museum, but one that makes archaeology accessible as a continuous and active process. Archaeological artefacts and Viking legends are presented in a diverse and media-rich exhibition. Visitors can travel back to the earliest days of Jelling and immerse themselves in lives of the Vikings through ten different exhibition areas and forty media exhibits. Visitors have a different experience in each room. Some elements are continually changing so that visitors can experience new atmospheres and stories with every visit.
Drawings are a central motif throughout the exhibition. The drawing robot presents knowledge not as incontrovertible fact, but illustrates that knowledge is a process. It can be ‘fed’ with images of new finds and discoveries that it draws on the wall.
A panorama spans the walls of the “Viking World” and structures the space along the archetypical areas of Viking life: living in the village, trade, fighting and conquest. Embedded in the panorama are moving images that illustrate these different areas and that can be activated by the visitors. Numerous artefacts and media exhibits offer deeper knowledge about these subjects.
Visitors to the ‘Mythology Room’ hear stories that have been handed down orally through the centuries. Moving images are projected onto a sculpture in the centre of the room that is a reference to Yggdrasil, the Vikings’ mythological tree of life. On the walls are images of a wide variety of sacrificial offerings. The walls with silhouettes are backlit and change colour over timed intervals.
Particular media exhibits connect the outdoor and indoor areas. Important archaeological finds such as the burial mounds, the stone ship and the rune stones that are located outside can be virtually explored in the exhibition. Visitors can ‘fly’ across the outdoor area while being inside. The interactive videos for this media installation have been pre-recorded using a drone equipped with an array of cameras.
Two Timescopes on the centre’s terrace offer a view of Jelling’s changes over centuries. Most important areas of the site — such as the longhouse, the church, the burial mounds, and the wooden palisade — are marked out in a transition of the live view. With the push of a button, images of different periods can be selected.
The exhibition was commissioned by the Vejle Commune and realised in collaboration with Bertron Schwarz Frey, Jonas und der Wolf, m box, MKT, M.o.l.i.t.o.r., Monath & Menzel, picaroMEDIA and Weißpunktundpurpur. Image copyright: image 1 – Jochen Voos, following images – © ART+COM