Carl Nielsen Museum

The Man Behind the Music

Odense City Museums

Music is life and, like it, inextinguishable.

Carl Nielsen


The man behind the music

Today, Carl August Nielsen is Denmark’s most celebrated composer. But Nielsen's life was complex – one marred by a turbulent marriage and the struggle to be recognised – which he poured into his music. Completely unique, his style, approach to structure and creative process are a reflection of the man himself – they are inextricably linked.

The best way to get to know the man behind the music is through the music itself. This philosophy became the driving inspiration behind our design for the renewed Carl Nielsen Museum in Odense, Denmark. We are currently working with Odense City Museums and Copenhagen University to create a new visitor experience for the museum. It promises to become a musical and sensory space – playful, tactile and inspiring. Visitors will feel and experience the music as a living force, full of Nielsen’s spirit.

Image: Rico Feldfoss


Calibration, Exploration and Immersion

A key challenge in our design was to tell Nielsen’s story while letting visitors create their own interpretation of Nielsen’s music. In response, we created a narrative framework that focuses on the ingredients of Nielsen’s work, its quality and craft, rather than its meaning – this we left for the visitors to interpret themselves.

The experience is composed of three movements. The opening movement, Calibration, is a moment for visitors to tune in to the experience. Here, they are introduced both to Nielsen and the visual language of the experience. The second movement, Exploration, delves into individual fragments of Nielsen's music. The third and final movement, Immersion, brings the experience to a dramatic climax. Here, visitors can embrace the music in its totality.

Ground floor plan

First floor plan


Representing Nielsen's life force

Our design tackles the inherent challenge of giving precedence to audio in a physical and visual setting. Careful not to distract from the music, we developed a subtle motif that gently guides visitors through the space. Across the three movements, Nielsen’s life force is represented as a current of energy – like a pulse of electricity, lighting up everything it touches. As the light pulses through the space, it changes. The experience begins with a spark – Nielsen’s inspiration and the ingredients that built him. Then it develops into a constellation of light, each fragment of light representing a fragment of Nielsen’s musical repertoire. Finally, the light culminates into one complete whole – the moment of immersion where visitors ‘step into’ Nielsen’s music.

Images: Rico Feldfoss


Coda to Coda




University of Copenhagen