A living history museum
The GeoCenter Møns Klint is a geological and nature museum that traces the geological history of Denmark dating back about 70 million years. It was opened in May 2007 near the white chalk Mons Klint, or the Cliffs of Mon, one of the country’s most stunning natural wonders and tourist attractions. Of the 250 000 total visitors a year, 75 000 enter the exhibitions in the unique centre, which has become a top site in its own right.
“The Møns Klint and the GeoCenter have evolved into the most important tourist site in this part of Denmark.”
Nils Natorp, project manager
The journey is divided into three main sections: ‘The Path of Wisdom’, a chronology dating back to prehistoric times when the country that came to be known as Denmark is born out of the sea, and the creation of the chalk cliffs which gave rise to a variety of flora and fauna; ‘The Windows’, which documents traces of geology in the landscape; and ‘The Artists’ Caves’ temporary exhibition, in which five contemporary artists give their perception of events in different geological period. The cave-like exhibition booths, laid out like the spine of a dinosaur, are popular with children.
Designed by Copenhagen-based PLH Architects, the GeoCenter was short-listed in the nature category at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008. What is unique about the building is that most of it is underground, out of respect for nature and also because the centre tells the story of Denmark’s underground (its geological roots). Visitors enter the building and see the exhibition below ground level, then come up into the hall where there’s a restaurant and a beautiful terrace close to the cliffs. The entire exhibition is interactive, with visitors touching and moving things and listening to a lot of sound effects. Microscopes allow visitors to see that the cliffs are formed from fossils.
Partners for a worthy cause
More than 20 years ago the Danish government took over the property where the centre is now located. Then a group of local activists created a foundation called GeoCenter Møns Klint, to raise money for a centre focused on the birth of Denmark from a geological point of view. All the rundown buildings scattered around the property were torn down to make way for the new centre – except for an old hotel, which now houses the administration facilities. PLH Architects was awarded the contract after its design was selected from 300 entries in an international competition.
Besides EU funding, the project was financed by donations from foundations, corporations and public bodies including the Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik Fund, Moen municipality and Arbijdsmarkedets Fereifond and Nordea Bank’s Nordea Fund. The ‘Artists’ Caves’ temporary exhibition will later be replaced by new artistic interpretations of different geological periods.