Viking Ship Museum

Resurrecting Long Lost Viking Ships



A new home for a beloved museum

Roskilde is Denmark’s ancient capital. Sitting at the end of a fjord, it is where land, sea and sky meet. A place from where Viking navigators embarked on journeys to Europe, North America and the Middle East. Today, the city is home to Denmark’s Viking Ship Museum.

Housed in a complex that includes research facilities, an experimental archaeology cluster and a waterside Ship Hall that is an icon of Danish modernism, the campus has grown organically over time. Visitors are able to see the finest excavated Viking ships in the world in a place that lives and breathes Viking culture and technology – from the food in the café to the boatyards that seek to recreate ancient shipbuilding techniques.

Over recent years, rising sea levels and increasingly violent winter storms have taken their toll on the Ship Hall building and threatened its priceless collection. This called for urgent action. We began working with the museum team to develop a masterplan for the renewed institution that would bring together all its offers into one united proposition.


Uniting the museum

Our first task was a complete evaluation of the site – its collections, its function and, most importantly, its potential. Fact-finding missions and workshops involved everyone from the Director to the café staff. Part of the challenge was tying together the museum’s vastly different functions, from its museum spaces to its boatyard, while drawing out the merits out each. The resulting proposition is both the glue that holds the project together, and the fuel that is driving it forward.

Our proposition brings three core strands of thinking together: 'Neighbourhood Museum' focuses on community, embracing its café and retail spaces to create a place for museumgoers as much as passers-by. 'Experimental Museum' introduces new interpretation practices. Inspired by the experimental boatyard, it asks you to get hands on with the collections – a tool might be part of a display or in use. 'One Museum' draws connections across the site – both physically, through pathways, and metaphorically through a united approach to narrative and interactivity.


A vision for the future

Our masterplan considers everything from spatial planning, visitor routes, pay barriers and ticket options to operational requirements, audience types and user needs. It then goes one step further and visualises the museum with pre-concept sketches and drawings.

The new masterplan has provided the museum with a powerful prospectus that it will use in its efforts to secure capital funding and to continue its dialogues with audiences, neighbours and stakeholders.