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Hans Christian Andersen Museum
Photograph: H.C. Andersen’s House, Laerke Beck Johansen

A Hans Christian Andersen-inspired fairytale museum has just opened in Denmark

The author’s hometown of Odense is now home to a sprawling complex of gardens and exhibition spaces

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

Chances are, you’re already pretty familiar with the tales of ‘The Snow Queen’, ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Thumbelina’ and ‘The Princess and the Pea’. But a new museum in Denmark aims to tell all those magical stories anew – through immersive exhibits, gardens, and a series of sound and light installations.

Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author responsible for more than 100 fairy tales (and, indirectly, a whole truckload of Disney movies), grew up in the then-rural town of Odense before moving to Copenhagen as an adult. Odense was a place of age-old traditions and superstitions, and young Hans developed a deep passion for literature and nature on trips with his father into the forest.

The complex – which has just opened fully after a soft launch last year – is split up into a series of cylindrical structures with glass façades that blend in naturally with the surrounding gardens. Narrow wooden columns create the impression of an indoor forest, while the buildings’ concave roofs will be topped with hanging flower gardens.

Hans Christian Andersen MuseumPhotograph: H.C. Andersens Hus, Laerke Beck Johansen

The attraction is also home to a café, an underground museum and a ‘children’s space’ that will host events and workshops. It has been built just near his childhood home, which was already open to visitors – making the city a mega-attraction for Andersen fans, in the same way Stratford-upon-Avon is for Shakespeare.

Architects Kengo Kuma and Associates took inspiration from Andersen’s story ‘The Tinderbox’, in which a whole new world is concealed beneath a single tree. ‘The idea behind the architectural design resembled Andersen’s method, where a small world suddenly expands to a bigger universe,’ said Kuma.

Admittedly, after the rough couple of years we’ve all had, our worlds could do with more than a little beefing up. So: anyone for a fairytale trip to Odense?

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