Do any of you watch Doctor Who? The brilliant British TV series about an alien called a Time Lord, who travels in time and space in his time machine (shaped like a blue Police Box), usually accompanied by a human sidekick or two. It is a wonderful show, filled with adventure, distant planets, and, what was always my favourite episodes: journeys to the past, where The Doctor visits exciting places and meets interesting people such as Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Madame de Pompadour, Van Gogh, and Agatha Christie.
As we can’t all go travelling with The Doctor (why oh why?!?), I think museums are the next best thing. It might not be the size and shape of a telephone box, or make the iconic swoosh swoosh-sound of the Tardis, but when you step inside the doors of Moesgaard Museum, you will look into the eyes of humanity’s distant ancestors. You will walk into a burial mound and meet its inhabitants. You will cower as you stand in the middle of an Iron Age battlefield, and you will journey with the Vikings to York, Byzantium, and Ingelheim. And you will travel to Mexico, to Uganda, and to Australia, where you will meet the spirits of the dead. If that is not a journey worthy of The Doctor, I do not know what is.
Another thing that Doctor Who and Moesgaard Museum have in common is the fact that you meet real people. Of course, in very different ways. The Doctor and his companions meet historical figures (played by actors). At Moesgaard, we do not have actors, but you have very real material objects, which connect us to real people from distant times or far off places. My favourite object in the Stone Age exhibition is not one of the skeletons, beautiful axes, or glowing amber jewellery. It is an unassuming piece of dark brown material, made about 6.000 years ago, with a technique called needle binding. Just imagine, six millennia ago, a real person, just like you or me, made that fabric! A person, who worried, loved, fought, and laughed just like any other person throughout history and across cultures. Their hands held the needle that knotted the yarn together, and so many thousands of years later, those knots remain intact.
Similarly, in the Iron Age exhibition, you can see hair, which was sacrificed in a bog, and it is still wavy, because the woman, who sacrificed it over two thousand years ago, braided it. Just like my hair is wavy, if I have had it in a braid all day. These, more than any other objects or exhibitional tricks, make me feel like I am truly meeting the ancient person who made them.
And that is why Moesgaard Museum is my Tardis.
Also, it does quite look like a spaceship, which crash landed in the middle of the woods and decided to stay, doesn’t it?
Featured image photo credit: Simon Christensen; Foto/medie afdelingen Moesgaard. Moesgaard Museum