Kulturnatten 2015: open the doors!

Last updated: 21 Sep 2019; Kulturnatten marks the start of efterårsferien, aka half term, with its own equally intensive child-friendly offer

Update, 2016: anything to tempt this year? among the urban players Arkitektforeningen has a very grown up look at how CPH has changed over the last 20 years, allegedly streamed, I’ve discovered a tour on the 4A bus and MYRKR, who offer a sound walk in the dark. There’s also the (albeit brief) opportunity to cross the bridge across Vognmagergade behind the Egmont clock, and of notably opened doors there’s a handful of kollegier (student halls) and loger (freemasons, odd…). Maybe there are some benefits in this experience economy lark, but it all feels a bit frantic and completely random. Start and end points: BØRN, and the city as stage set – or living room.

So, can Copenhagen’s Kulturnat (Culture Night) really make up for the lack of an Open House style weekend? Tonight you can pay DK 90 (£9; children under 12 go free) for free travel and entry to a shedload of events, the overwhelming majority of which are child oriented. (It is half term next week, but I still can’t help thinking this is an example of Denmark’s børnesamfund in action.)

While in 2008 an effort was made to sift out noncultural actors from the programme this year the 35 museums at the core of the event are joined by a number of representatives from the business community, including two firms of lawyers, plus some plain old retailers, namely the House of Amber and a boiled sweets shop. In addition a clutch of religious organisations (but not Scientology) and a fleet of government departments are in on the action.

The website serves up two pages of rundvisninger (guided tours). While some are extremely short (20 minutes in Carlsberg Byen? really?) and the most popular are booked up already, there are a few to tempt. There’s the chance to get inside the Nazi built Emdrupborg, now the library of Aarhus University’s CPH presence, with a talk on the building’s previous guises (school for the children of Nazi officers, refugee camp, teacher training college) and tours taking in the clock tower and the library itself. Frederiksberg comes up with the opportunity to nose round the Musikkonservatorium, aka Vilhelm Lauritzen’s Radiohuset (1936-41), with a tour of the technical installations in the basement on offer as well.

Holmen has a whole host of lovelies – how will this languid area change when/if Inderhavnsbroen, the much delayed new bridge from the foot of Nyhavn, is finished? – with KADK, the School of Architecture and Design, offering a tour of its historic campus, formerly owned by the Navy. Did anyone say ships? Of passing interest due to my recent holiday to Gdynia and Gdansk, there’s a chance to go on board Sehested, once equipped with guided missiles, and The Seal, Denmark’s last submarine, and to climb the Big Crane. On your way back into town you can have a look round Sofiebadet, a bath house dating from 1909.

It’s last call for the Museum of Copenhagen on Vesterbrogade, moving to more elevated quarters in 2017, while at Vesterport there’s access to Shellhuset (1950-51, more Vilhelm Lauritzen), the Gestapo HQ in Denmark in a previous incarnation, thanks to one of those firms of lawyers. Kødbyen is using levende lys (candles and other open flames, whoa there) to guide people round the historic slaughterhouse area, which now houses a range of cultural actors. It’s not my favourite district – meatpacking still goes on and there’s a stench of (at best) ammonia, but good effort, with a map too!

The big hitters in the city centre – the town hall, Borgen and friends, Børsen and its twisty turny tower, Dansk Industri, Danske Bank and its paternoster, the French embassy in Det Thottske Palæ – were all full by the time I looked, it’s pretty hopeless really, although if you are into neoclassical mansions you are still in with a shout, I can take or leave them myself. Bang on trend there’s a light projection on Thorvaldens’ facade, plus the Royal Library’s Tur med en fremmed, doing its bit to get Danes to make eye contact with strangers.

Conclusion: most of my personal points of interest offer reasonable access under normal circumstances, and those which don’t are fully booked, or offer only fleeting glimpses amidst the other goings-on. There are bound to be hordes of Happy Danes accompanied by kids in flyverdragter loose on the streets, and looking at today’s News from Denmark the chance of a hitting a dissection or a dodgy skit is high, so I’m giving it a miss.

Suggestion: open those doors on a Saturday or Sunday instead, when those who just want to nosey around some buildings can get access during daylight?

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