Playful new museum revitalises Danish author Hans Christian Andersen
30 June 2021, the new Hans Christian Andersen museum, H.C. Andersen's House, will open in the town Odense in Denmark. It will be a brand-new museum that will rethink how the story of Andersen’s life and work is told.
The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen is among the most famous and read authors in world history, admired everywhere for his fantastical fairytales. Starting in the summer of 2021, his stories will serve as the foundation of a brand-new type of museum, which will not simply communicate about Andersen, but as Andersen:
“We have to dive into the fairytales as the very first thing, because they are what everyone knows. The idea is not to retell the stories, but rather to communicate their familiarity and inspire further reading of Andersen,” says Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen, the head of Odense City Museums.
The vision for H.C. Andersen's House is to create a complete artistic experience in which architecture, sound, light and a stream of images constantly invite new encounters between each visitor and Andersen’s fairytales.
Photo:Lærke Beck Johansen
”Hans Christian Andersen’s artistic universe is fantastic, because it reverses how you imagine this world you thought you knew, but without putting anything else in its place. His fairytales do not point towards a universal truth, but rather into the open – towards the peculiarity and multiplicity of the world,” explains Creative Director of the new museum, Henrik Lübker.
“In the new museum, we maintain this ambiguity by using Andersen’s own artistic strategies as the starting point for how the garden, the house and the exhibition have all been shaped, as well as for the many artistic contributions that will also be part of the museum,” continues Lübker.
Poetic museum architecture
The new museum is designed by esteemed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and his team, who are also behind the new Olympic stadium in Tokyo. As part of the design process, Kuma has found inspiration in Andersen’s fairytale ‘The Tinderbox’, in which a tree reveals an underground world full of new perspectives.
”The idea behind the architectural design resembled Andersen’s method, where a small world suddenly expands to a bigger universe,” explains Kengo Kuma.
The site covers an area of 5,600 square meters and contains a children’s house and an underground museum, which intertwines with a surrounding magical garden.
The new museum will be one of Denmark’s largest and most ambitious museums, and it has been made possible through a substantial donation from The A.P. Møller Foundation, and contributions from Nordea-fonden, The Augustinus Foundation, Knud Højgaards Fond and the City of Odense.
The new museum is located in Odense, the birthplace of Andersen, and the exhibition leads to his actual childhood home to showcase how far the author had come. Odense is the main city of the island of Funen, which features many other fairy tale sights and places with unique connections to Andersen.
Facts about Danish author Hans Christian Andersen
- The Danish author was born in Odense on the island of Fyn on 2 April 1805. He died in 1875 and is buried at Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen. Discover more from Andersen's Odense here.
- During his life he travelled extensively throughout Denmark and Europe and as far as Morocco. He described his love of travel by writing: “To travel is to live” in his autobiography ‘The fairy tale of my life’ from 1855.
- His most famous works include The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Nightingale, The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and The Little Match Girl.
- The Disney movies The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Groove as well as Frozen 1 and 2 are all said to be inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.
- Tivoli Gardens theme park in Copenhagen is where Hans Christian Andersen found his inspiration for the fairy tale The Nightingale, which begins with the Tivoli-inspired description if the Chinese emperor’s gardens and park.
- Hans Christian Andersen was not only a talented writer, he also had a real talent for paper cuttings, including being credited with creating the world’s oldest braided Christmas heart.