Danish Jewish Museum
The unexpected intertwining of the old vaulted brick space and the uniquely molded exhibition space creates a dynamic dialogue between architectures of past and future — the newness of the old and the agelessness of the new.
The Danish Jewish Museum is located in the former Royal Boathouse built by King Christian IV in 1598, the oldest section of the Royal Library. Two white marks on the pebbled pathway in the Royal Library Garden lead to the marble-paved plaza by the museum entrance. Marble slabs function as outdoor seating areas.
The massive front door is inscribed with the Hebrew word mitzvah “a good deed”. Narrow skylights in the paving, also a reference to a mitzvah, symbolically connect the exterior to the interior.
Inside the museum, there are no straight lines. Daniel Libeskind, the project’s architect and a prolific designer of memorials to the Holocaust, deliberately slanted the walls and sloped the wood-plank floor to make visitors feel they are standing on a boat: a reminder of the rocking seas thousands of Jews crossed as they fled Nazi-occupied Denmark for neutral Sweden. The walls are covered in Scandinavian light-colored birch plywood, a nod to Denmark’s Jewish history being more uplifting than other countries’. The glass windows, cut into the walls, are another reference to a mitzvah.
The museum features exhibits on the history, culture, and art of Danish Jews since the 17th century.