A brief history of Maniitsoq Museum
On October 25, 1974, Thomas Petrussen, who would later become the museum curator, sent out invitations for a reception to mark the opening of Maniitsoq Museum at Imeqvej B-210, a building that had once served as the office of the former town treasurer. Prior to 1974, the museum committee had used venues like the town meeting hall for exhibitions. Maniitsoq Museum has been situated at its current location since January 12, 1980. However, the idea of reserving an area for a museum in Kirkegårdsdalen (“Churchyard Valley”) – where Maniitsoq Museum is located today – dates back to 1970.
The four old colonial buildings from the second half of the 1800s that today house the museum were slated to be dismantled in 1970 at their original location on the waterfront to make way for an expansion of the city’s fish processing plant. The plan was to ship some or all four of the old buildings to the capital Nuuk, where they were to be reassembled as a kind of open-air museum. In response to local opposition to this move, though, the town council decided to have the buildings reconstructed in an area in Kirkegårdsdalen where they would constitute the new Maniitsoq Museum. Two Danish architects from Copenhagen, Peter Hee and Jørgen Jessen, arrived in Maniitsoq in 1970 to measure and documents the buildings as well as supervise their dismantling and storage so they could be rebuilt at their designated new location.
A committee was established in town “for the reconstruction of the four old colonial buildings in Sukkertoppen,” which is the old Danish name for Maniitsoq. In the late 1970s, the materials were brought to the new site at Illunnguit in Kirkegårdsdalen and reassembled. The first buildings were ready for use in early 1977. Colonial building B-16 was used for housing, the provisions depot B-25 served as a local library, the red stone house B-28 was converted to a boiler room for central heating, and the white stone house B-56 became the local museum and was officially opened on January 12, 1980.
During the 1980s, however, the museum encountered difficulties storing and exhibiting the increasing number of artifacts – fur garments, kayaking gear, pipe organs, works of art, etc. – and over the years all four buildings came to house Maniitsoq Museum. The latest building to be incorporated into the complex was B-25 in 2010, when the local library moved to the city hall. All four colonial buildings are now listed as historical monuments.
Over the years, several prominent guests have visited Maniitsoq Museum, including a visit in 1993 by former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and his Greenlandic counterpart at the time, Lars Emil Johansen. The last official visit was in 2015, when Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark were given a tour of the museum.