Since the late 1800s, Danish museums have been closely associated with ideas of popular enlightenment and education. An important reason for their foundation was the idea that knowledge of history increases our understanding of ourselves and our consciousness of our community.
Viborg Museum plays a central part in the local community and we wish to play an even stronger role by conveying what is distinctive about Viborg. The history of Viborg is the history of how the Danish monarchy has evolved over a thousand years, which role the Church and faith has played in Denmark, how the modern state of justice and rights developed and how it works, and how democracy was introduced in Denmark. The history of Viborg is the history that has shaped us, both individually and as a society. In 2021, a visitor leaving Viborg Museum will have gained not only an extraordinary experience, but also a personal revelation. The Museum will have pushed thoughts and conversations into the far corners of the greatest questions of life and society, but it will also have provided a reminder that some of the fundamentals we owe to the efforts of our ancestors, will only be part of our future if we consciously decide to make them so.
Why was a 7-year old boy raised unto a podium and paid homage as the future king? Why was it in Viborg? Who had elected him? Why had they elected him? Who else might they have elected? Was he to rule alone?
How do we elect kings today? Why is it different today?
In many ways, we take Denmark as a state of justice and rights for granted, even though it is constantly being transformed. By teaching such topics as the measures of transitional justice after World War II—in the very building where it happened, no less—we gain a better understanding of how the modern state reacts when pushed to extremes. Furthermore, we build a basis for evaluating how we think about justice, now and in the future.
The windows were fogged, but the jurors could still discern Viborg's lovely lady—the Cathedral—unwaveringly and majestically towering about the square. For eight hours they had debated and weighed the different positions. Should the people who assisted the Gestapo be sentenced to death? Were their crimes so great that they ought to pay with their lives? Two of the men rested briefly at the window sill and looking searchingly at the Cathedral. But neither help nor comfort was forthcoming. On this day it was not the Lord who was judging the living. It was up to them.
Can the death penalty be instituted retroactively? Can the death penalty be justified at all? What is a state of justice, and what is not? What would we consider an appropriate punishment today, for those convicted during the period of transitional justice? How do we now punish those who cooperate with Denmark's adversaries?