HCA Museum inaugurates new exhibits
04 June 2004 , Exhibition (including permanent)
Denmark - Odense
Friday 4 June is the inauguration date for the new exhibits in the Hans Christian Andersen's Museum attended by Her Majesty the Queen.
After more than two years of rebuilding work, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is opening its doors as a fully-fledged museum. Accordingly, the exhibits inaugurated on 3 May last year will remain in place, with the addition of the concluding chapters about the world-famous writer's life.
Up until now, the progression of the exhibits has described the times the writer lived in, giving an impression of Hans Christian Andersen the man and his stature and demonstrating his artistic spirit by means of his drawings, papercuts and literary output. As from 4 June, the sequence of exhibits will continue with a description of his life and career as well as his heritage and the story of his famous childhood home.
As a result of the large-scale alterations to the building, the exhibition space is now greater and the story of the writer's life and work now plays out in a large exhibition hall arranged around the impressive domed hall at the centre of the museum. In this large exhibition hall, visitors to the museum will have plenty of room and scope to inspect the hundreds of museum pieces linked with the writer's life: his birth and impoverished childhood years in Odense, his first challenging period in Copenhagen, the hard years of schooling in Slagelse and Elsinore, his debut as a writer, his successful career as a writer, his travels, his loneliness, old age and death. The exhibits are housed in new displays, draped from ceiling to floor and spread continuously along the walls like tapestries, highlighting the chronology of this depiction of his life.
The famous yellow corner house where Hans Christian Andersen is thought to have been born in 1805 contains exhibits depicting the history of the house and Hans Christian Andersen's poor family and origins. Three of the seven small rooms of the house have been refitted with interiors approximating the household effects of his grandmother and parents, based on the books kept by the administrators of their estate.
The purpose of these interiors is to give an impression of the writer's impoverished background. Three years after Hans Christian Andersen moved to Copenhagen, his mother's household effects were valued at a little over 5 rix-dollars, which was no great fortune when you consider that the writer's journey to Copenhagen cost 3 rix-dollars. Part of the purpose of the interiors, however, is also to demonstrate that what we know as "Hans Christian Andersen's childhood home" was not a single dwelling: as many as five poor families would have lived in the house at any one time - for example, 19 people lived here in 1834.
The museum has set up a cabinet of curiosities in a basement room beneath the cinematic exhibit, where visitors can look at such peculiar items as a lock of hair from the writer, his hats and various items of clothing. Here, too, you can see fans where the writer has inscribed familiar quotations on the leaves, the noble picture book for his little friend Astrid Stampe and the two large collages on the folding screen that Hans Christian Andersen skilfully completed a few years before his death in 1875.
The screen, which Hans Christian Andersen used to keep in front of his bed, is now once again set up in front of the very bed the elderly Hans Christian Andersen had to buy. This investment bothered him a little - because it was actually the first bed he had ever bought! For most of his life, the writer lived in furnished rooms or hotels.
But much of the furniture that the writer had in his rooms has been kept, so the museum has also been able to reconstruct the writer's study from his latter years at Nyhavn 18 for the benefit of visitors. Here, you can see the numerous belongings associated with the writer's everyday life. Visitors have no access to the study, although you can retrieve images of objects on a touch-screen to study at close quarters - whilst listening to a commentary about them.
This is thanks to the modern electronic facilities used in the new exhibitions. Thus, you can follow the writer on his 30 trips abroad by means of information stands and touch-screens; you can study the collages on the folding screen at close quarters, look at all the writer's papercuts and drawings, and study the varied use of language in his writings in the library. The museum and its archives are always open at www.odmus.dk and you can find detailed information there in much the same way.
The museum also offers visitors a short film show about the writer's life. There are also listening posts where you can hear excellent readings of the writer's fairytales, by performers from Denmark and elsewhere.
It might take a while to make your way around the whole museum, but there are plenty of opportunities for taking a little rest. One room is specifically set aside for this purpose. Here you can sit down and relax, enjoy a glass of water, look out at street scenes from this golden age or look at an attractive atrium. Or you can take a book from the shelf and read something by the writer, either for your own pleasure or out loud to your children, if they are not already busy drawing or cutting paper at the table that has been set up for them. A first-floor room has also been set aside for schoolchildren and this can of course also be used for other educational purposes.
With the opening of the museum on 4 June, Odense City Museums has got off to an early start with the celebration of Hans Christian Andersen's bicentenary in 2005, commemorating it in a modern way, rekindling the tremendous interest in the writer's life and literary works, which have aroused joy and fascination all over the world and across all cultural divides.
The museum opens to the public on 5 June 2004 at 10.00 am.
Further information is available on request from Assistant Curator Ejnar Stig Askgaard ( , tel. +45 6551 4658) and from Acting Museum Director Claus Koch ( , +45 6551 4610).
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum
Bangs Boder 29
DK- 5000 Odense C
16. June - 31. August 9 am - 7 pm
1. September - 15. June 10 am - 4 pm (Monday closed)
Closed 24.12. + 25.12. + 31.12. + 1.1.
Adults: Dkk 50
Children: Dkk 20
Groups: Dkk 45/15 (more than 10 persons)