History of the Geological Museum

The Geological Museum opened in 1772 as the "Universitetets Nye Naturaltheater" (The New Natural Theatre of the University) and contains specimens which have been in museum collections for more than 300 years. When it was first formed it was the only geological institution in Denmark and it has been the parent body for the Geological Surveys of Denmark (1888) and Greenland (1946) and the four geological teaching institutes (1967), which were later joined to form the Geological Institute, University of Copenhagen (1991).

Today the Geological Museum acts as a centre for Danish geology with special national responsibilities for keeping public records. The duties and functions as outlined in the University statutes for natural history museums include:

To maintain and enlarge the scientific collections;
To ensure that the collections are used for scientific research;

To present the science of geology to the general public and to foster an interest in natural history by maintaining public exhibitions;
To carry out scientific research, in particular on material in the Museum collections;
To supervise Cand.scient. and Ph.D. students and scholarship holders.


The Museum consists of six major collections representing the branches of geology, a library (which also serves the Geological Institute, The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the Danish Lithosphere Centre) and an archive. The collections contain approximately 8 million specimens, which have been accumulated through the years from over 30 large collections, including royal, public and private collections together with material collected by the staff or obtained by donation, purchase or exchange. The collections are divided into two main categories: 1) Original collections of fossils, minerals, meteorites and rocks, which have formed the basis for scientific research papers published by all the geological institutes in Denmark, 2) Reference collections, which are designed to document the composition and development of different regions of the Earth (especially Denmark, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland) and to illustrate the development of flora and fauna through time. One specific public obligation of the museum is to curate geological material which has been designated by the National Board of Museums as "Danekræ", a new concept concerning finds in Denmark of natural history objects of unique scientific or exhibitive value.


museum1900 geologisk museum 2004
Geological Museum 1900 Geologica Museum 2004


The museum's research is mainly carried out in the fields of mineralogy, igneous petrology, evolution of the Precambrian crust, vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology and Quaternary geology.

The exhibition of minerals is one of the finest in Europe with exceptional specimens from the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Other permanent exhibitions tell about meteorites, volcanoes, continental drift, the geology of Denmark, the geology of Greenland, fossils (including the largest bivalve in the World), and the origin of Man.

Simultaneously temporary exhibitions on topics of current interest are shown, the latest being on Fossil Birds. The number of visitors per annum is about 25,000.

Since 1916 the museum has arranged popular lectures for the public. A special section in the museum provides public schools and high schools with study collections and educational material.