Thursday, 11 December 2008


In light of the previous post about the horrible Danish Design Museum, I thought I'd direct you to my friend Michelle's blog, where she has some great gift ideas for Christmas that are truly well designed.  As opposed to the crap on display at the Danish Design Museum.

Danish Design Museum, Copenhagen

It's not surprising that if you go to enough museums, you eventually find yourself in one that makes you want to gouge your own eyes out. 

We thought the Danish Design Museum would be full of cool Scandinavian modern design pieces, furniture, etc.  You know, like Ikea done well.  We were wrong.

They had one room, roughly the size of a walk in closet, that had some objects from the past century, showing the development of technology and design (computers, telephones, chairs, etc).  This was moderately interesting.  There should have been more of this.  There was also a temporary exhibit in the basement that was very meta-reflexive, with little vials of liquid with labels like "symptom remover."  And they were playing Sigur Ros and Bjork in this room.  The artsy-fartsy person in me somewhat enjoyed this.

The rest of the museum was confusing.  They seemed to have two other special exhibits installed, both of which were showcases of innovative Danish design. But there wasn't enough information to know what pieces were meant to be used for.  Also, a lot of the stuff there seemed like it should be interactive, but it wasn't clear whether this was allowed, and when I was completely gauche and tried to pick up one of the objects (a flashing set of blocks?), it was nailed to the display table, so clearly I was mistaken.  It just felt poorly conceived of and poorly executed.

Also, it wasn't free, and the other two museums we went to in Copenhagen were.  So that's another strike against it.

Overall, a disappointment.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen

We went to two fantastic museums in Copenhagen, and the National Museum of Denmark was definitely the best.  It probably had one of the best archaeological displays I've seen in a long time.  

Highlights included:
  • The entire exhibit of Danish prehistory was excellent.  Reallly well-displayed, and with good information to accompany the artefacts.  They had tons of interesting stuff to see, from the earliest artefacts (about 15,000 years old: lithics, bone tools, and art!) to bronze horns called Lurs.  It was pretty fantastic, and even my non-archaeologist husband agreed!
  • Lots of burials in hollowed out tree-trunks, which was pretty interesting to see.
  • Late prehistoric stone carvings, stelae and rock art.  Awe-inspiring stuff.
  • Bronze-age hoards of metal and amber.  The quantity of material that was uncovered from some of these sites was staggering.
  • Vikings, vikings, vikings!  Need I say more?
  • Upstairs, the original palace rooms were preserved, and the museum transformed from a modern, well-curated exhibit to a more old-fashioned museum with curio cabinets filled with antiquities and odds-and-ends.  It was interesting to compare the two approaches to museum curation.  
We really enjoyed the hour and a half that we spent here, and I would highly rate this among museums we have recently been to.  The material was accessible, well-explained, and just plain interesting.  There's something here for everyone!  

P.S. It's FREE!

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Museum of Christmas

We're off to Copenhagen for the weekend, so hopefully when we get back, I'll have a new museum to review/praise/trash.  In the meantime, there's something I've been thinking about the last few days that I'm not sure warrants a full post, but is more of "food for thought."

We pulled all our Christmas tat out of boxes last weekend to decorate our (tiny) flat.  This caused me to start thinking about the practice of decorating for Christmas, acquiring new Christmas tat, and reorganising your things to make room for a huge stuffed Santa in the entryway.  I think this practice closely resembles museum curation, and it's interesting that this seems to be the only time of year when most people put on their "curator" hats, rearrange their furniture, and put up their "special exhibit" of ceramic snowmen.  You can learn a lot about people by studying the way they decorate for Christmas.  Some people are "themey" (all angels, all Nativity scenes, etc), others are restrained (you know the people who have a map for where to put ornaments on the tree, and only allow elegant silver baubles), others are all inclusive (my mom is part of this school of thought: anything Christmas-related is coveted and curated by my mom!).  You could take the analogy so far that it becomes ridiculous, but it's worth considering the way this act of decoration makes you engage with the objects in new ways each year, and how you see things differently depending on the events of the previous year.  

Whew.  All of that deep thinking made me exhausted.  I think I'll go have a hot chocolate.