The “House of Memories” is not usually open to the public, and it’s not aimed at schoolchildren sent to learn about a distant and exotic past.
Rather, this exhibit is intended for visitors living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. And the history they’ve come to experience is their own.
On one recent visit, a small group of residents from the nearby Kløvervang nursing home was greeted at the door by a smiling young woman in sturdy shoes and a house dress.
After welcoming them and apologizing for having forgotten to take off her apron — “How embarrassing!” — the hostess explains that this is the home of her sister (wink, wink), but they are welcome to look around.
As she leads the group into a tiny kitchen and begins pulling out an array of spices, preserves and old liquor bottles, the guests seem happy to play along.
A coffee substitute from the era elicits an especially enthusiastic response as the visitors are invited to take a whiff.
“Ah! That smells like the old days!” exclaims one visitor.
Another visitor points to a giant pot perched on the radiator, and with a little prompting from the hostess, begins explaining the process for soaking and boiling baby diapers.
Someone else sees a toothbrush on the counter and a discussion ensues about when, exactly, brushing one’s teeth moved out of the kitchen and into the bathroom.
Throughout it all, the hostess, museum interpreter Nanna Vinther, takes on the role of willing student, gently prodding guests for more information: “What can you tell me about this thing? Does this actually taste good? You probably know more about this than I do.”
And there is plenty to talk about. From the food in the pantry to the clock in the dining room, the perfume on the dresser, even the electrical outlets: everything here …