The Royal Danish Arsenal Museum is in central Copenhagen, located in Christian IVs arsenal Tøjhuset. Created in 1928, the museum focuses on the military history of Denmark. The narrow, 163 meters brick building its located in, with its tall wooden columns lends itself perfectly to the unique display on the second floor.
140 meters of display cases stretches across the wooden floors, resting perfectly between two long rows of columns. This long display case is separated into 48 sections, each one presenting one war in chronological order. This permanent exhibit was designed by Jacstudios. It creates a demanding perspective that allows the visitors to both spatially and historically experience 100’s of objects that related to more than 500 year of war history.
Taken from Jacstudios website, this quote captures their design intent; “In the exhibition the artifacts are arranged so that they, in dialogue with each other, create drama and storytelling. They are organised to give a scenographical experience but with out turning into props. The exhibition challenges the visitor to engage personally.”
I found this exhibit very interesting due to it’s ingenious simplicity. The exhibition strikes the right balance of presenting itself to the visitor in an interesting way while also respecting and preserving the 160 meter long arsenal hall its located in. Thus allowing the building itself to be presented as a historic artifact.
The displays themselves are also set up quite simply. I was impressed with the simplest display technique; creating a grid out of the neat repetition of one object such as helmets, armor, or spears. No descriptions or dates. Just showing a small hint of the number of items necessary for war.
There is also limited use of technology. In front of each display case is an iPad that has pictures of each object within the case. You can select an picture and read a short description of the item. The use of the iPad rather than written text is simple. It saves space, but more importantly it allows for the information to be displayed in multiple languages.
Fun Fact: The Danish army didn’t have an establish medic corps until 1848. Before them if you got wounded you were screwed. But actually even if you didn’t get wounded you were still in danger of dying as sickness killed more than bullets.
Unfortunately I was unable to make it through the entire exhibit as my class was only there for half an hour. I only made it to the 1800s. If given the chance I hope to go back to finish it. Overall, a visitor leaves this exhibit with a better appreciation and understanding of the overall history of war. By turning the 160 meter long room into a time line the visitor can physically sense the vast amount of time.