Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen Retiring as Odense City Museum Director

  • March 03, 2021
  • March 09, 2021
  • Odense, Denmark


NFDA Note:  Many Danish Americans know Torben from his research on Danish-USA immigration including his book "Dannebrog on the American Prairie", and his involvement in Danish American organizations.  In Odense, his work as Director of the Odense City Museums includes the HC Andersen Museum and Den Fynske Landsby.  Special thanks to Torben's son Jon Gade Jeppesen for his help on this story.

Video News Clip from TV2


From: Fyens Stidenende

On 31 July, Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen will retire after leading museums that have changed significantly in recent years.

Odense: In 1989, Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen became director of Odense City Museums. This summer, he is saying goodbye, and the position as museum director has just been advertised.

- I am 69 years old, and unless you are president of the United States or have plans to become one, then it is a normal time to say goodbye, says Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen and adds that he has no ambitions to become US President. In return, it has always been the plan to end as director in 2021.

Because when Odense City Museums on January 1, a self-governing institution with a professional board was elected for a period of four years, Torben Grøngaard told the board that when it entered its fourth year, it should find a new director, and so it has become.

The most expensive project

July 31st will be Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen's last official working day, and before that there will also be a holiday. But without setting an exact date yet, the outgoing museum director will be part of the opening of the new H.C. Andersen House. The most expensive and prestigious project that has been launched during Grøngaard Jeppesen's reign.

I'm 69 years old, and unless you're president of the United States or have plans to become one, it's a normal time to say goodbye.

- When the first thoughts about the new museum came into being, we were still in a period where we talked about Odense going into it, says the museum director, who can look back on a time when much has been achieved. Of course with the new, adventurous HCA house as the crown of the work. But also a new Møntergården museum building, which was inaugurated in 2013, just as money has been found for a new Carl Nielsen Museum.

- I have helped to succeed with a lot, says Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen, who is also happy with the transition from a municipal to a self-governing institution, which, among other things, has given far greater freedom in relation to finding external partners.


On a personal level, Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen is proud to have completed his doctoral dissertation, which was defended in the autumn of 2017 at the University of Southern Denmark, where he is also an adjunct professor.

The dissertation is about Scandinavian immigrants to the USA and their descendants, and this is something that Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen will spend more energy on after retirement. Although of course time must also be spent on travel, the cottage in Tversted and the grandchildren.

- I have received an emeritus scheme with Odense City Museums, so that I can continue my research under the auspices of the museum, just as I will continue to be an adjunct professor. If Grøngaard Jeppesen is not to be American president, he will still have to research the migration to the superpower.

- There has been an availability of very new material, so my plans are to make a new updated book, says Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen.

New role

When Torben Grøngaard Jeppsen stops, he will have been a permanent employee at Odense City Museums for 44 years - and of these, 31 as chief executive. Plus even a few years prior as a student assistant.

It is a time when museums and their role have changed tremendously. A development of which the museum director himself has been a part.

- We have gone from a time when the guests were almost something that took focus from the actual work to a time where I have kept an eye on the visitor numbers almost daily, and where in the world the guests come from, says Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen.

- It is not because we have become or must be purely commercial, because research is still extremely important, but we must also be able to attract interests and money, adds the museum director, who sums up Odense City Museums' changed role as follows:

- We have gone from being a small closed world to playing a big role in the city, where we contribute to its transformation with high-quality construction in architecture and content.

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Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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