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Hans Christian Andersen Museum
Photograph: Kengo Kuma & Associates, Cornelius Vöge, MASU planning

A Hans Christian Andersen-inspired fairytale museum is opening in Denmark

The author’s hometown of Odense will soon be home to a sprawling complex of gardens and exhibition spaces

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.

Now the city’s Hans Christian Andersen Museum, which is set to open in June this year, aims to offer visitors the feeling of stepping inside the author’s fairytale universe.

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

The complex will be split up into a series of cylindrical structures with glass façades that blend in naturally with the surrounding gardens. Narrow wooden columns will create the impression of an indoor forest, while the buildings’ concave roofs will be topped with hanging flower gardens.

The attraction will also be 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 is 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 a year of on-and-off lockdowns, all of our worlds could do with more than a little beefing up. So: anyone for a fairytale trip to Odense?

More cool plans:

Serge Gainsbourg’s house in Paris is becoming a museum

Norway is building an epic whale-watching museum in the Arctic Circle

Europe is getting a teamLab art space, and it’s going to be mindblowing

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