1950’s apartment – A museum especially for those with dementia

Museum Helps the Elderly (and those with dementia)

This article is from the Danish news source TV2.

The Old Town (an open-air museum in Aarhus, Denmark) has a reminiscence apartment that is fully booked on weekdays, but now those who are interested have the opportunity to see the apartment and get an insight into the work of remembrance communication (reminiscence).

22. apr 2015, kl. 12:32 | By: Katrine Rubeck – updated 25. april 12.20

AARHUS:  This weekend, The Old Town in Aarhus opens up the city’s rememberence apartment.

Photooto: Thorsten Overgaard, Den Gamle By

Usually, it is not possible for the city’s visitors to see the apartment, as it is booked every day for courses and visits from the city’s elderly people with dementia .

The remembrance apartment has existed for three years in the form it has now. It is designed to stimulate the recall the memories for the elderly. The rooms are light and airy, like a nice middle-class home in the mid-1950s. This is the time when most of the reminiscence-targeted guests with dementia were young and started a family, and it is the time they have the most memories from.

“It is a great success,” says Henning Lindberg, Head of the living museum and remembrance communication .

The Old Town is the only museum that works with reminiscence communication. The concept is now being exported to Norway, Sweden, and Hungary, and the museum is in the process of international cooperation to spread knowledge about the reminiscence/remembrance communication.

On both Saturdays and Sundays, the apartments is open for tours. Tours are booked through the ticket office at The Old Town.

In an earlier version of this article we mentioned research on remembrance communication, but the editors have subsequently been made ​​aware that there is not yet evidence of these results

If you can’t make it to Aarhus, you can also check out this video to experience the remembrance apartment:

The remembrance apartment in The Old Town of Aarhus has been shown to have positive effects on elderly people with dementia. In this video, head of the remembrance apartment, Henning Lindberg explains the apartment’s structure and function. For what is memory and what’s in it for dementia?

From The Old Town’s website:

In the remembrance apartment, visitors can tinker around and open the drawers and cupboards

You can book a time in the remembrance apartment as a family gift

The museum’s reminiscence communication is based on a newly furnished three-bedroom apartment, a veritable time warp from the 1950s where you both can touch and try what you see.

The apartment is reserved for groups. General visitors are not allowed on these special tours. You can also book a course or tour in the apartment, for example family gift.

The smell of newly varnished floors, the sound of the piano, and feel of a newly starched apron greets the visitors and bring the senses into play. Forgotten memories come to the surface. The rooms are light and airy as a nice middle-class home in the mid-1950s – that is the time when most of the museum’s visitors with dementia were young and starting families.

Experience shows that the decor itself opens many doors for the memories. All furniture and objects are original, and they are cleaned with soft soap, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar that was used in the 1950s, so the smell is also authentic.

The rooms are light and airy, like a nice middle-class home from the mid 1950s.

The apartment is a time warp from the 1950s and the total environment brings memories out.

The radio and gramophone. Guests are welcome to put records on and enjoy the music.

Diverse reminiscence activities

We organize visits from individual wants and needs. All visits begin with a trip in a horse-drawn carriage. The museum staff are dressed in historical costumes, have special knowledge about daily life in 1950 – which will often correspond to the guests youth. Staff participate in Aarhus Municipality’s Public Dementia Education, so they can work with and understand dementia diseases. Practical information (in Danish).

Commemorative programs at The Occupation Museum

The visit is recommended to anyone who is interested in the German occupation of Denmark, regardless of whether you have experienced the time, or simply have read and heard about it. The group will be shown around the museum by specially trained guides who both tells about the exhibits and helps bring the guests’ own memories of the Occupation forward. Guests also have the opportunity to touch and interact with original things from the time period. Coffee and cake are served in the museum’s cozy library.

Come for coffee at the remembrance apartment

Conversations are overheard about business, the housewife’s work, large sinks, trade unions, excursions, holiday memories, gardens, beach hotels, biking and so on. The house follows the seasons with Christmas decorations, Easter chicks and so on.

Hip Hip Hurra!

When the topic is birthdays, we talk abut traditions, family parties, songs, games, and fun. The birthday guest of honor is sure to receive a gift. Emnet er fødselsdage og vi taler om traditioner, familiefester, sange, spil og lege. Fødselaren får en gave. Well suited as a family experience and a good idea for a birthday gift!


The teacher invites the group into the school. Participants sit at desks . The teacher and the participants talk about going to school, what you did and what you learned, how the discipline was, and who you went to school with.

There is also a part of The Old Town that features the 1970s! Well, for some reason, they focus on 1974… 😉 And there is a part of The Old Town that features 1927. And the 1800s… lots of cool things. I have visited twice when family or friends come from the US to visit. The oldest buildings are from 1550 and the majority of the buildings were physically dismantled and moved to Den Gamble By. It’s a really cool open air museum they have, definitely worth a visit if you come to Denmark!

Young couple with clothes from the 1970s

An entire neighborhood from 1974 is rising at Den Gamle By. You can visit three different homes, a radio and TV store, a bakery, a grocer’s shop and a gynecologist’s clinic.

Visit the Danes’ not-so-distant past, or step into the lives of their parents and grandparents.

In 1974, Denmark was:

  • an affluent society after years of steady economic growth
  • a new member of the European Economic Community
  • a country just beginning to feel the effects of the oil crisis

Videos from the 1974-homes

Short films about the daily life in the commune, the nuclear family, and at the un-married headmistress.
Daily life in 1974

Nuclear familys living room in the 1970s.
Nuclear family 1974. Jørn and Lena Meyer lived here with their two children. Jørn is a smith and Lena is a housewife. They bought their first teak furniture when they got married in the mid 1960s.
Teak furniture kitchen
The nuclear family’s kitchen.
1970s clothes
The commune. Four young left-oriented students lived together in a big apartment in Aarhus in the 1970s.
The commune's kithcen
The commune’s kitchen.
An art deco chandelier in the headmistress' home.
The headmistress’ home. Miss Sneum never married and decorated her home with her parent’s furniture. Here an art deco chandelier.
Grocer's shop from the 1970s
You can buy coffee and sweets in the grocer’s shop.
Pastry shop - decorated in the 1920s
The Pastry Shop. Café Bonnich opened in 1922. In Den Gamle By, it is decorated as it appeared in the early 1970s.
Poul's Radio with 1970s radios and tvs
Poul’s Radio. In the 1970s, radios and TVs were collectively referred to as “brown goods,” their cabinets typically being made of oak, teak, or rosewood. Visitors will occasionally find the shopkeeper or the radio repairman at work.
Gynaecology clinic from 1974.
Gynecology clinic 1974. Dr. Windfeld opened the first private gynecology clinic in the south of Jutland. (I am not sure what the shadow is doing in this picture…)
Shoes from the commune.
Shoes from the commune.

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