The Workers’ Museum

13/1/19 søndag w/ Charlotte

Charlotte took me around the city center to familiarize with the DIS buildings and circus building where we had our opening ceremony the next day.

We decided to visit a museum afterward… (It was a rather cold day -some raining- from time to time. We wanted to stay dry and warm aka stay inside)

Arbejdermuseet (The Workers Museum) is a historical museum in central Copenhagen, only around 10 mins walking distance from DIS. (By looking up on the map, this museum is the closest of where we were at)

facade of the building, and the flag

It is a historical museum with four floors. The size of the museum is moderate but a lot is going on in it. There are many exhibitions of daily life settings and working conditions showcasing the development/ changes of the working class since the late 1800s. The museum restores the rooms of kitchen, bedroom and living room throughout different times so we could clearly see the changes in terms of the technologies (like washing machines instead of handwash, cooking facilities, heaters in the room etc.)

On the first floor (ground floor), the exhibition is also a playroom for kids. The entire space is divided into two parts, a house setting, and a factory setting mimicking the lifestyle and working situation in the old days in Denmark. There are ordinary outfits wore by the workers in the past that children can put on, some entertaining equipment is also there for people to engage with (There is a touch screen for role play- the participant is a worker in a beer bottle company, and his goal is to find out the bottle with defects on the assembly line.)

Wooden shoes and ordinary working clothes that audience can try on
Working at the assembly line
two kids roleplaying

Upstairs, there is a huge assembly hall. This museum building was actually built in 1879 as the Workers’ Assembly Building – the first house built by the Danish labor movement. It was a place for not only political meetings but also for social parties or activities. This hall offers a unique view of the aesthetics of the early labor movement and the history of this building and early labor movement is also displayed in the attic above the hall through different media such as sounds and images.

The workers’ first assembly hall

Rooms/ factory settings are also being restored carefully and displayed. We walk through history by experiencing a typical worker’s family living in Copenhagen through three generations. It is extraordinary to see technology improves life over time.

kitchen style in different time period
kitchen style in different time period
Chinoiserie (looks like)

One thing I would love to raise is that a good portion of history about woman workers and women leaders fighting against women rights is also included in the exhibition. Denmark holds the European record for most women on the labor markets, and it is necessary for women workers to fight for their rights. I had Issues In Feminism class last semester at Denison. From that course, I learned (or some subconscious feeling came to surface) how women might encounter many different yet difficult problems or have unfair working situations than men often do in many aspects. It is actually still a problem that women get underpaid but longer hours. In the exhibition, it also reminds us that maybe the workers have better working conditions here in Denmark now, but there are factory workers in other parts of the world still encounter bad or unfair treatments.

I really liked this workers’ museum and its overall exhibition. I think it is quite important for people, especially Danes to learn about the past, to know how long and hard the progress for the workers in the past to fight for their rights so that people nowadays can have such great welfare in this society. For people who are not Danes, it is also very meaningful to know this kind of history and keep in mind that still there are people out there who are suffering from all kinds of difficulties in certain work or industry. But it is rather long progress that needs everyone’s effort.

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