I am currently travelling in Scandinavia, in Copenhagen, Denmark and in Stockholm, Sweden to meet some of my colleagues from other European museums. Here is a first blog post about visitors comfort and some of the in situ interpretation/education installations at the Statens Museum for Kunst, the National Gallery of Denmark, in Copenhagen.
A lot of efforts are made by the SMK to offer a quality welcome:
- some very comfy sofas were installed in the entrance hall, and freely usable catalogues are proposed (they aren’t wired, but only bear a ‘SMK property’ sticker)
- free wifi is offered, with a direct connection and no portal (which might not be a great choice for legal outcomes, but I don’t know about danish law on the matter)
- every part of the museum is accessible to both wheelchairs and strollers
- visitor can have a sit in a lot of rooms (at least, all of the larger ones), which is also a good way of appreciating danish design.
A drawing room was created in the ‘Danish and Nordic Arts, 1750-1900’ department. Visitors will find everything that is required to draw: sheets of paper and pencils, light wood boards to put the sheets on, comfortable chairs and even pencil-sharpeners. Many statues are on display, they are either originals or copies from Danish and European sculptors. Once finished, visitors can put their drawings in a box and, from time to time, employees from the museum pick some that are displayed in this very room.
Board games with 17th c. paintings
At the center of a large room dedicated to large format 17th c. paintings are tables and benches. The tables display board games: a picture of one of the paintings that is hanging on the walls of the room, an abacus to count points and cards bearing pictures of nowadays daily life objects. Each player picks a card and has to tell a story related to both the object on the card and the painting depicted at the center of the table. Players then vote, and the one who has the more votes wins. Bonus line: the museum adopted a non-sexist grammar on the instructions!
Visitors can access further information on selected works from two interactive tables, the one in the ‘Danish and Nordic Arts 1750-1900’ department, the other in the ‘European Arts 1300-1800’ department. Visitors can then browse through fIlmed interviews of curators, art historians and other academics but also contemporary artists who are commenting this selection of works of art. The interviews are in Danish, but English subtitles are available.
Travelling through the Ages
In the ‘European Arts 1300-1800’ department is an installation about 18th c. Grand Tour, when noble men from Europe travelled accross Italy on the search for artists and thinkers from Antiquity and the Renaissance. A portrait of a young noble man is diplayed, facing an audio installation that allows visitors to hear about young Danes in their twenties giving their views about travelling nowadays. Personal experiences are varied, from a young woman who did a world tour to a young man who never left Copenhagen, sharing thoughts about globalization. Audios are in Danish, but card boards with English texts are available.
‘I went to SMK and…’
Last but not least, close to the exit in the entrance hall, is an installation inspired by New York MoMA, ‘I went to SMK and…’. Small cards allow visitors to write about their experience at the museum, and then to put them in a box. Simple but efficient, this is the kind of installations that give another form to the usual visitors books.