COPENHAGEN.- The Danish queen Margrethe II is not only a queen, she is also passionately interested in the past and archaeology. Life-size photographs and the queens voice guide visitors through the exhibition. The queen has been on archaeological digs since she was a teenager in Denmark and also abroad in Italy at the end of the 1950s with her grandfather King Gustav VI of Sweden, in Nubia prior to the building of the Aswan Dam, and not least as an archaeology student at Cambridge.
The Danish queen, a descendent of one of the oldest monarchies in the world, has always been interested in history and art, not only in the country she rules, but also throughout the world. Her family tree stretches way beyond Denmarks borders. She is, for example, the great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria.
Margrethe II has a strong interest in archaeology. On the occasion of The National Museums exhibition to celebrate her 70th birthday she recounts enthusiastically:
When I was 12 years old I had the chance to spend an afternoon at an excavation in Illerup, where major archaeological discoveries were made. That was probably the first time I was allowed to be where the digging was done. A wonderful afternoon.
A Royal Explorer
The exhibition paints a unique portrait of Queen Margrethe as a serious and knowledgeable archaeologist. The queen has participated in numerous archaeological digs at home and abroad, and visitors can embark on a fascinating journey to the archaeological sites that hold a special interest for her. These include San Giovenale northwest of Rome, at the excavation sites of ancient Etruscan settlements and burial chambers she visited several times with her grandfather King Gustav IV. She continued her passion for archaeology by studying the subject at Cambridge. During her time in England the queen discovered some rare clay pipes from the Elizabethan Era in Hyde Park, after which her adventures continued in the deserts of Nubia, where she helped preserve the archaeological treasures of the Pharaohs before the Aswan Dam was built.
The Queens Own Story
Her Majestys voice is one of the main elements guiding visitors through the exhibition of selected finds from the many archaeological excavations she has experienced. Among them are the famous Jelling goblet buried around 958-59ACE, which her Viking ancestor King Gorm the Elder very probably held in his hands.
As well as original finds, the exhibition also includes numerous previously private photographs and 16mm films of the young Queen Margrethe, as well as some of the sketches she made during excavations.
The Exhibition Design
The queens relationship to archaeology is marked by her focus and desire to interpret. Both of which are reflected in the design of the exhibition in collaboration with the Danish artist Ingvar Cronhammar. His clear grasp and staging of the subject form an atmospheric, artistic context for the finds and the queens own story.