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New museum revitalizes

Hans Christian Andersen

5 February 2021

In the summer of 2021, the new Hans Christian Andersen Museum will open in Odense. It will be a brand-new museum, which will rethink how the story of Andersen’s life and work is told. The museum will provide a unique artistic experience, which combines landscape, architecture and modern exhibition design, and it will offer new perspectives on one of the most beloved and creative thinkers in world history. The person behind the ambitious architectural project is Japanese star architect Kengo Kuma, and the project has been made possible through a substantial donation by The A.P. Møller Foundation.

Hans Christian Andersen is not merely one of the most famous and read authors in world history, admired everywhere for his fantastical fairytales. Starting in the summer of 2021, his amazing stories will also 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 the museum is to spatialize the experience of Andersen’s literary universe and stage a complete artistic experience in which architecture, sound, light and a stream of images constantly create new encounters between each visitor and Andersen’s fairytales.

”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. 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,” explains Creative Director of the new museum, Henrik Lübker.

As such, the new museum will provide a space for the pursuit of puzzlement, the imagination and magic adventures, all of which will provide food for thought and create new perspectives on ourselves, on nature and society – both for the Danish and the international visitors of all ages that rush to Odense every year to experience the birthplace of the poet, which will also be part of the new museum.

Poetic museum architecture in a class of its own
The new museum is designed by Japanese star architect Kengo Kuma and his team, who are also behind the new Olympic stadium in Tokyo. As part of the design process, the esteemed architect has found inspiration in Andersen’s fairytale ‘The Tinderbox’, in which a tree reveals an underground world, which magically reveals new perspectives right in front of the beholder.

The idea behind the architectural design resembled Andersen’s method, where a small world suddenly expands to a bigger universe,” explains Kengo Kuma.

The museum 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. On top of that, the museum will consist of a wide array of state-of-the-art technologies and approaches to set design, which will all add to the experience of Andersen’s magical universe coming to life.

Substantial donation from The A.P. Møller Foundation
The new museum is one of Denmark’s largest and most ambitious museum projects in recent years, and it has been made possible through a substantial donation from The A.P. Møller Foundation as well as contributions from Nordea-fonden, The Augustinus Foundation, Knud Højgaards Fond and the City of Odense.

The new museum opens in the summer of 2021.

Follow the development of the new museum on Instagram and Facebook via @hcandersensodense

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