What is the Designmuseum Danmark?
Designmuseum Danmark is Denmark's largest museum for Danish and international design and a central exhibition forum for industrial design and applied arts in Scandinavia. The museum’s collections, library and archives constitute a central resource centre for the study of design and its history in Denmark.
The museum brings together and documents the contemporary developments within industrial design, decorative and applied arts. We must add to this the collection of exemplary works from older “areas” and periods, which are closely related to contemporary oeuvres. Designmuseum Danmark undertakes research into the history of art and design, taking as its point of departure the museum’s own collections, and presents the results in exhibitions, publications and educational material etc.
What is the history of the Designmuseum Danmark?
Designmuseum Danmark was founded in 1890 by the Industriforeningen i København (now Dansk Industri – The Confederation of Danish Industries) and the Ny Carlsberg Museumslegat. It first opened to the public in 1895 in a completely new museum building situated on what is now H.C. Andersens Boulevard, in the very centre of Copenhagen.
Right from the start the main purpose of the museum has been to disseminate a concept of quality within design. Through displaying the exemplary objects it was hoped to raise standards within the products of Danish industry. The Museum’s collections were thus envisaged as serving as a source of inspiration for people active in industry. In addition there has always been the aspiration to make contemporary consumers both critically aware and discerning.
The Rococo Building
Since 1926, Designmuseum Danmark has been housed in one of Copenhagen’s finest rococo buildings, the former King Frederik’s Hospital. This edifice was built during the reign of King Frederik V in the years 1752-57 to designs by the architects Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritz de Thurah. In the early 1920s the building was renovated and refurbished to suit museum purposes by the architects Ivar Bentsen and Kaare Klint.
Kaare Klint (1888-1954) furnishes the museum and he designs its entire inventory en the late 1920s. Known as the grand old man of Danish furniture design, he has a decisive influence on Danish design. Kaare Klint lived and worked at the museum and also served as a teacher for several of the best-known Danish architects and designers of the 20th century. As a lecturer at the School of Furniture Design and Interior Decoration at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Kaare Klint was known for his extensive analytic examination of spatiality. Today the museum’s buildings are known as the finest example of Kaare Klint’s work with function and tradition.
The Royal Frederik's Hospital: Care for all
1757: The Royal Frederik’s Hospital is Denmark’s first public hospital was constructed during the reign of King Frederik V. The hospital was located in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Frederiksstaden with the goal of offering penniless patients free care. The hospital was designed by two architects, Nicolai Eigtved and Laurids de Thurah, and was built between 1752 and 1757. It was officially opened on the King’s birthday, 31 March.
The architects designed the sick rooms as long galleries. The interiors were determined by the dimensions of a sickbed and based on what was, at the time, a modern, systematic and functional hospital set-up. It created unobstructed access to each bed, windows to provide natural light, and good care. And with the Grønnegården garden in the middle of the hospital, there was plenty of access to sunshine and fresh air. Two large ports opened the hospital towards the streets of Amaliegade and Bredgade. One of the central operating rooms is now the museum’s Assembly Hall, with optimal natural light.
Prominent patients: The hospital is mentioned in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, and among its many patients was the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who was treated in 1855.
The Royal Frederik’s Hospital closed in 1910, when the Rigshospitalet opened.
Permanent Exhibtion: The Danish Chair
The exhibit The Danish Chair offers a diverse and global selection of chairs, with a focus on chairs from Denmark. It shows how recent Danish furniture design can be seen with roots far back in history and in foreign cultures. With an emphasis on the golden age of Danish furniture design, 1920-1970, the exhibit allows visitors to experience about 100 Danish and a handful of international chairs shown as individual works of art – from wooden chairs to armchairs to folding chairs, lounge chairs, dining-room chairs and rocking chairs.
Check out our wonderful and diverse world of chairs. We’ll tell the story of how Danish design became an international megabrand. Learn more about the many types of chairs that illustrate the 20th-century Danish success story and the export adventure we call Danish Modern.
The chair is the piece of furniture that is closest to human beings. It touches and reflects the body that sits on it, with arms, legs, seat and back. It is a designer's touchstone and design history's favourite object. And the chair is one of the most culture-bearing design objects.
Photo: Christian Hoyer & Pernille Klemp
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