Elsinore's new urban space by the water adds to the town's maritime past a cultural update in the shape of a library, cultural centre, art and museum. Kulturhavnen is a gathering point for all, and a link between Kronborg and Elsinore's old town.
Culture has come to the old shipyard. Where was once produced ships, there is now produced knowledge and experience for everyone, as the old shipyard buildings has been turned in 13.000 square meters of culture. Visitors come for the library, to borrow books or read today’s paper on the top floor, with a view of Kronborg and the water. Visitors come for the museum, when they want to know more of the building’s past as a shipyard. Visitors come for the experiences, going to the concerts or lectures on the great stage.
Kulturhavn Kronborg (Cultural harbor Kronborg) is an umbrella term for the new harbor area in Elsinore, where culture builds on top of the maritime past. Kulturhavnen is designed as a coherent experience, containing (amongst others) the three cultural institutions of Kronborg, Kulturværftet and the M/S Maritime Museum, which all host numerous and attractive events all year round. The ambition is to make Kulturhavn Kronborg a unique universe, attracting visitors both locally, regionally and internationally.
The future for Elsinore’s harbor began when Helsingør Værft (Elsinore shipyard) closed down in 1983. In the 1980s it seemed likely that the harbor area was going to be replaced by residences and industry, but during the 1990s focus was put on both maintaining the area surrounding Kronborg, and on adding a cultural and recreational aspect to the harbor. The state and municipality agreed that no commercial buildings were to be constructed in the area.
In 2004, the discussions about the harbor’s future culminated in an overall plan by Elsinore city council. It is this overall plan which is the basis for the creation of the new cultural area, with its unique historical framework.
Elsinore municipality has, together with a number of collaborators and foundations, invested over a billion Danish crowns in the project, which is finished in the summer of 2013. At that point the M/S Maritime Museum has been established in one of the old dry docks from Helsingør Værft.
Small man, great debate
At the end of one of the piers on Værftspladsen, one can find a small steel boy on his steel rock. He looks at Øresund and the ferries, sailing back and forth between Helsingborg and Helsingør. He looks at Herakles fighting the Hydra. He looks up. Apparently not affected by the curious watchers, mirroring themselves in his polished steel body.
The art duo Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculpture ”HAN” (”HE”) was revealed the 2nd of June 2012. The thin young man is not highly visible in the harbor, sitting there in his mermaid position, on his rock, looking out on the world. But he has still managed to be a great part of public debate. Is he homosexual? Is he the male counterpart to The Little Mermaid? Is he just a young man with wanderlust?
Is it grand art, or mere provocation? There are many different answers, depending on who you ask. One thing is for sure: HAN has become a part of Elsinore, and if you look at him long enough, he will blink. Eventually.
Rudolph Tegner’s sculpture ”Herakles and the Hydra” is from 1932, and can be found today at the far end of the northern pier. The citizens of Elsinore were not impressed with the sculpture when it was revealed, and it quickly received the nickname ”The small man’s fight again the tax authority”.
The old harbor crane from the 1860, with the monogram of Frederik the 7th, can still be found in the harbor. A testimony to the fact that though culture has marched into the harbor in Elsinore, we should never forget the maritime past.
In June 2013, the M/S Museet for Søfart (M/S Maritime Museum) opens in Kulturhavn Kronborg. The Museum will tell the story of Denmark as a seafaring nation, and the construction is, rather fittingly, placed in the old dry dock at Helsingør Værft. It is the architect firm BIG who has designed the museum, which will become something of an attraction in itself. For the museum is going to be located nine meters under the sea’s surface.
Read more on the website of the Maritime Museum