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Art and city spaces in Elsinore

At the beginning of this millennium, the municipality of Elsinore invested heavily in the city. In deep respect for its history, they resolved to create a new future for the area - drawing on stories from its every nook and crannie, from old fortress to the port. The strength of this huge development project was also due to the visions of Kulturhavnen (Cultural Harbour and the city), in conjunction with a number of strong partners: Kronborg, Slots and Kulturstyrelsen (the Palace and Culture Board), Museet for Søfart the Museum of Maritime Life and Real Dania (The Real Dania Foundation). In 2010, the Cultural Shipyard was opened; then the new port area and finally, in 2013, the new maritime museum. One of the urban planning tasks of Elsinore Municipality was to support a rethink of the entire city’s connection to the port and to create dynamic links between the world heritage site of Kronborg Castle, the new institutions in the port and the unique medieval city. The internationally renowned Danish company, Jan Gehl Architects, was commissioned to draw up a city space plan, which was presented to the Municipality in 2011. The architect’s plans included a number of recommendations to help break down the historical divide between the old industrial area around the harbour and the medieval city, for the benefit of both the city´s citizens and its many visitors from near and far. One of the recommendations was that temporary interventions should be created to communicate that new initiatives are under consideration; opening the city up to new perspectives, the city can be seen from new angles. Try it out, it sounded. This call led the Municipality´s politicians to set up a new cultural department to develop a concept for artistic interventions that could support the development ofthe city´s spaces and create experiences along new routes, based on the history of Elsinore and the stories that the city tells. The concept was developed by artistic consultant, Elisabetta Saiu, and Head of Culture, Jørgen Sprogøe Petersen, in collaboration with representatives from Elsinore´s Visual Arts School / Customs and KØS (Museum of Art in the Public Space).






The concept suggested that the artists should work with ‘the identity of Elsinore’ and should uncover its various historical layers.
It was planned to launch KUNST og BYRUM HELSINGØR (Arts and Byrum Elsinore) as a multi-year effort, inviting artists to work with the three rings in the development of the city over a period of time.
The first ring is the old medieval town, the Customs town - Kronborg and the city of Hamlet. Here it is the urban spaces in the historic city centre that will become the easel of the artist.
The second ring is the city of industry and shipping, which, to a large extent, lies as a ring outside the old town, facing the harbour. It includes the yard and the construction.
The third ring is the new city, the large residential areas that surround the old Elsinore.
It was a priority to invite internationally renowned street artists with experience in working with the city´s urban spaces and to solve pre-made themes . Their artistic ideas were required to reflect the theme and history of the environments that they dealt with. This means, for example, that it is in the third ring´s focus on present and future that the imagination is unleashed in Vapnagaard’s tunnels, while an art work such as Værftet (The Yard) is characterised by a strict social- realistic expression that relates to industrialism.

Photo of the artist

Local involvement. Collaboration and interaction.

An important part of the artists’ work was to engage in dialogue with the city, its citizens and institutions. The unfolding of the works themselves formed a key part of the project – with everything taking place openly, so that visitors could follow the ways the artists captured the spirit of the place. The large fish sculpture was created as collaboration between its Japanese makers and a large group of local volunteers. The two photo projects Himlen over byen (Heaven over the city) and Drømme i Vapnagård (Dreams in Vapnagård) were produced following close interaction with local citizens.
One specific aspect of the process of creating the works involved the establishment of platforms on which international artists could generate a local and national artistic environment through workshops and collaborative projects.
The works have been created in collaboration with other cultural activities taking place in Elsinore´s urban space, initiated by Toldkammeret (The Customs Chamber), Kulturværftet (The Culture Yard), HamletScenen (The Hamlet Scene) and not least Helsingørs gadeteaterfestival Passage (Elsinore´s Theatres Street Festival Passage), and others.
Elsinore has a string of institutions that tell vivid and exciting stories about the city and the country, and KUNST og BYRUM (Art and urban space) could help project the stories of the museums into the city´s space. The artist´s works are therefore created in collaboration with Domkirken (The Cathedral and Sct. Mariæ Church), Bymuseet (The City Museum), Skibsklarerergården (The Shipyard Clearing House), Værftsmuseet (The Shipyard Museum), Museet for Søfart (The Maritime Museum), Øresundsakvariet (The Ørsund Aquarium), Helsingørs communes biblioteker (The libraries of Elsinore´s Municipality) and Danmarks Tekniske Museum (The Technical Museum of Denmark).
The works, which are located in large residential areas, have been created in close collaboration with, among others, Bestyrelsen for Vapnagård (The board of Vapnagård), Boligselskabet Boliggården (The housing company Boliggården) and Biblioteksafdelingen I Abildvænget (The library department Abildvænget).
The project also built on the tradition of street art. With great commitment, much work has been done locally to extend the life of the artworks, including the murals Life in the sea of Øresund and Elsinores´ Maritime Museum.
At the same time as the development of KUNST og BYRUM (ARTS and CITY SPACE), there has grown a need to promote a stronger thematic dissemination of the city´s many attractions and experiences. This has been developed on various sites, including Oplev Helsingør (Experience Elsinore) on the Municipality´s website and the project Kulturpromenaden (Cultural Promenade), where citizens and visitors are invited on a route through the city´s many contemporary and historical artworks.


Initially, projects were created as part of the Municipality of Elsinore´s work on urban space and development, and were subsequently anchored under Kommunens Kultur og turisme-udvalg (The Municipality´s Culture and Tourism Committee). The project is administratively part of the cultural department of Center for kultur og tourisme, idræt og medborgerskab (The Center for Culture and Tourism, Sports and Citizenship). The initiatives of the Municipality have been coordinated by a transversal urban space group, which includes representatives of Center for By, Land og Vand (The Center for City, Land and Water), among.
Decisions about the concepts and the thematic approach were politically rooted, but the project was also given a great deal of autonomy, and it has been the responsibility of the artistic consultant Elisabetta Saiu throughout the project to find the artists and manage the collaborative processes, including workshops and collaboration with institutions and other partners.

The Municipality of Elsinore’s culture and urban space pools have primarily given funding.

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