Life and Dead

Children Exhibition at SMK

Client SMK / National Gallery of Denmark
Date November 2011
Location Copenhagen, Denmark
Collaboration Marianne Grymer Bargeman, Michael Hansen & Pernille Jensen, SMK Education
Award Winner of the European Children’s Museum Award 2013
Photo Riccardo Bucarella & Frida Gregersen

“What happens when you die?” a little girl once asked me. “Do we go to heaven?”. “Or down to the creepy worms?” Her older brother interrupted. “And does the head fall off when you die?”

Thoughts and questions about life and death have occupied most people at a time in their life. Children, like adults, have thoughts about this. But the subject can be difficult for parents to handle, causing many to avoid the topic. This only complicates the subject. SMK made life and death the topic for a children’s exhibition seeking to address the difficult subject.

A thousand flies captured in a house endlessly fighting to escape or a pig skinned as an aesthetic object disputing its known use as a source of food. These were some of the peculiar artworks that were part of the playful and educational spatial design. The entangling of spatial design and art – particularly in the zone for reflection – evoked the children’s curiosity and imagination. Film, sounds, surprises underneath wooden tiles or in boxes, generated a natural approach to the topic and a nuanced foundation for the children to reflect upon. The intent was to create an aesthetic and informal exhibition setting the best possible conditions for demystifying the subject and celebrating life.

 In 2013 the exhibition, among other children initiatives at SMK, won the European Children’s Museum Award.