Danish National Maritime Museum
Thursday 06 Mar 2014


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Kossmann.dejong has designed the display for the Danish National Maritime Museum in Helsingør. The new building, designed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), is placed around a former dry dock and the exhibition spaces are all underground.

In order to make Denmark's infamous maritime history attractive to a broad audience, Kossmann.dejong visualised a metaphor of a journey. The 5000 m2 multimedia exhibition starts with an imagination of the universal yearning to discover far away shores and experience adventures at sea. A lighthouse projects dreamy images of shipping as depicted in art and culture, and portholes have been transformed into showcases to present the image of sailors as shaped through the ages.

Through the eyes of sailors, ship owners, captains and sailors' wives, the visitors are introduced to the temptations of the harbour, life on board and the skills required at sea. Diverse themes like war, trade and globalisation are developed to structure the exhibition in a dynamic way. Impressive three-dimensional film installations have been used in the depiction of these themes. For these, original film footage has been unearthed from archives and private collections. Through many ‘interactives', visitors can learn to trade, navigate and even ink a tattoo.

The interconnecting layer is the presentation of ‘cargo': piles of various goods illustrate the economic significance of the development of the industry. The container, as the main protagonist in the expansion and standardisation of modern shipping, is literally put on a pedestal.

Architecture and interiors complement each other by the use of the unique sculptural qualities of the building in the scenography of the exhibition. Very narrow spaces, for example, are used to evoke the oppressive atmosphere of the war. The wider, open space emphasises the openness of the sea, or the grand scale of contemporary globalisation.

Besides the use of various types of media, another vital aspect of the exhibition design was providing optimum conditions in which to display rare and delicate items. Careful attention is paid to acoustics, fire prevention, heating, ventilation, humidity, lighting levels and security systems. The wiring and ducting are mostly hidden in or behind a sound-absorbing, perforated aluminium suspended ceiling to keep the spaces at an optimal comfort level for both visitors and exhibits.