The evacuation was initiated due to a breach of a barrier that was supposed to keep floodwaters away during the storm.

"To everyone at the museum: get away NOW," the police wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

The museum is located by Roskilde Fjord, where the water level could rise 1.9 meters, according to some estimates.

Severe storms have hit Scandinavia, Germany, and the United Kingdom in the last 24 hours. The storm has been named Malik.

Precautions

On Saturday morning, the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde started taking precautions ahead of the storm.

The museum employees set up defenses to ensure that seawater does not enter the buildings.

It announced that it would secure the ships in Vikingskipshallen by putting plastic over them on Sunday, according to acting emergency manager Tom Nicolaisen at the museum.

The Viking Ship Hall’s large window facing out onto the fjord has been reinforced with large wooden panels, which are held in place by a solid wood construction along the length of the lowest third of the façade. This "storm surge wall" stands permanently in place in the Viking Ship Hall during the whole winter, the museum explained on its website.

When forecasts predict water levels of over 170 cm, as is the case on Sunday, the original Viking ships must be covered up with plastic. This is a difficult job, which must be carried out with extreme care so that the fragile ships' parts don't sustain any damage.

"The process of covering the ships with plastic is a technique we have developed in collaboration with conservators from the National Museum," Anne Christine Sørensen, Head of Collections at the Viking Ship Museum, stated on Friday. 

"The plastic will ensure that the Viking ships will be protected from spray in the event that one of the windows should crack when the waves hit the glass façade."

The Viking Ship Hall has also been protected by water tubes, and powerful pumps have been borrowed from Roskilde Fire Service. The pumps will remove water from the Museum’s basement, as previous storms have shown that water seeps up through the Museum’s foundations during high-water events such as these.

The five Skuldelev ships

The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde exhibits five 1000-year-old original ship finds from the Viking Age, the so-called Skuldelev ships. It also hosts a fleet of sailing reconstructions. 

The permanent exhibitions in the museum are focused on the five Skuldelev Ships. The exhibits tell the story of these ships and the related Nordic maritime adventures during the Viking Age. 

As the Viking Ship Museum points out, a barrier system was established on Roskilde Fjord during the late Viking Age, making it possible to control the sea routes to one of Denmark's great royal cities.

Three worn-out ships were towed out to the narrowest point, just outside the village of Skuldelev, filled with stones and sunk in the sailing channel Peberrenden, the most direct route to Roskilde. 

After twenty years, the barrier was reinforced with two more ships to create an effective defense system.

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