H.C. Andersen Research

H.C. Andersen forms the basis of a field of research for Odense City Museums. The development of the research strategy takes place as a formalised collaboration between the museum and the H.C. Andersen Center at the University of Southern Denmark. Studies of H.C. Andersen are broad and multifaceted and include literary studies, visual arts studies, cultural and personal history, translation, and illustration studies. In addition, a new area of research is H.C. Andersen’s significance as a global icon and literary legacy.

Odense City Museums has so far primarily researched H.C. Andersen as a person and poet based on the museum’s archives and the material cultural heritage associated with the poet’s life and work such as manuscripts, paper cuttings, drawings, picture books, personal objects and more, as well as the historical space in which the poet lived. In this respect, there has been a long-standing and close collaboration between Odense City Museums and the Royal Library. Odense City Museums’ extensive and completely unique H.C. Andersen collection and the author’s childhood (urban) landscape form a natural focal point for the museum’s research and its dissemination. Over time, new fields of study have emerged, such as the history of tradition and a museological exploration of the work’s communicative potentials. In addition to the collaboration with university researchers, Odense City Museums stands out with its large collection, which is considered a significant resource and advantage. In the coming years, Odense City Museums wants to focus on H.C. Andersen’s work through basic research, aesthetic studies and museological studies of dissemination practices.

Odense City Museums’ and The H.C. Andersen Centre’s research and research plans can generally be defined by a few distinct themes which relate to literary, textual, and cultural research. Here, special focus is placed on the connection between the analysis of the literature along with the text and its cultural significance with the analysis of H.C. Andersen as a cultural economic icon.

The themes are:

  • The break/pattern break
  • The place and its significance
  • The thing and the life of things
  • Movement/journey
  • Creativity/imagination
  • Cultural ‘glocalization’ and notions of authenticity
  • Literary heritage tourism, urban branding with artist personalities

The productiveness of the collaboration between Odense City Museums’ and the University of Southern Denmark’s research is thanks to a large number of factors that can come together. The museum’s research is primarily based on the collections, i.e., the material cultural heritage and archives, while the University of Southern Denmark’s researchers primarily emphasize the aesthetic studies. This dynamic between aesthetic and material history studies will form the cornerstone of the ongoing collaboration. The museum and university also have a common interest in cultivating a new area of research exploring H.C. Andersen’s significance as an international brand, as an icon of meaning and as a global literary heritage.