All in the best possible taste

Why do I feel adrift in Denmark? A video from the Association of Danish Museum’s Why exhibitions? seminar has provided some food for thought on why, for some, Denmark = dull.

Bernadette Lynch and Alex Burch, two Brit curator types, went on a Tour de Denmark, visiting a number of museums and evaluating them. They found a predominance of impeccably good taste with a sheen of simplicity, presenting in the main an uncomplicated picture, cutting back…getting away from complexity. Is life ever really like that?

While the architecture of the new Maritime Museum is universally acknowledged as fabulous, as yet there is little sense of place, no emotional engagement and limited ‘peopling’, leading to a disconnect. The human scale notwithstanding, this is a common reaction to Copenhagen’s glossy set pieces – UN City has also been criticised for its lack of sense of place and disconnected, isolated semi-public space.

The Museum of Copenhagen was the exception to the rule, a museum with a sense of purpose without simplifying or mythologising, full of a diverse range of people rather than the usual uniform visitors, thought provoking but not provocative, with a range of community partners and informed and engaged staff. Have to say the guy on front of house was a bit dour when I dropped by, and it didn’t feel open and inviting, but they do good stuff, also on #some.

Generally they found an absence of the bigger picture. In contrast they found it striking how often the subject of national identity came up, what it is to be Danish.

Postscript, 22 March: Politiken reports today that another architectural showpiece, the much lauded Den Blå Planet (aquarium), is to redo its exhibitions to the tune of DK 12.5 million after less than a year. 20% of visitors surveyed were “strongly dissatisfied” after their visit. And in 2016: new refit not really remedying matters.


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