Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Craft and Design

Karen Grøn


Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Craft and Design

Æblehaven 23, DK-6000 Kolding Denmark

European Museum Academy / Art Museum Award 2021






Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, Craft and Design believes museums must respond to an ever-changing world, create diverse communities, stimulate creativity and creative thinking, as well as empower people with the experience of being able to both act and participate in public conversations. Trapholt’s participatory and socially engaged work is an essential developmental engine, where new methods and ideas are conceived and translated into changing the institution of art museums overall.

Participatory and user-oriented initiatives are rooted in the organization in order to become sustainable with the strong commitment of the management. For this Trapholt received the EMA Art Museum Award 2022. The judges considered Trapholt a role model and extraordinary cultural agent because of the way the Museum puts the social challenges of our society in the centre of its work, and how this is embedded in the organization. The judges said: Museums change lives! Trapholt really does!



Crocheting Hope During Lockdown Spring 2020

Trapholt never closed during the first corona lockdown in Denmark spring 2020. Instead, Trapholt speeded up. Trapholt is very dependent on income from ticket sales, and the lockdowns indeed caused many worries. However, we chose to put our own concerns aside and focus on how to contribute positively to help people through the crisis and the fear, isolation and loneliness. We wanted to bring people together in a project centred on hope, creativity and community. We wanted to empower people and give them the opportunity to do something, contribute and give creative form to their thoughts. Thus, Trapholt immediately created the participatory art/craft project LIGHTHOPE in cooperation with textile artist Hanne G. and conceptual designer Rasmus Bækkel Fex.

April 1, 2020 we launched LIGHTHOPE on the Trapholt SOME platforms and in the national media by inviting people to crochet “lightbulbs” that could bring light into dark times. Hanne G. created instructions based on yarn in popular colours many people might have in their drawers: beige, white and yellow. A toilet roll core was the socket, with ironic reference to the initial hoarding of toilet paper in the first days of the lockdown. We asked participants to follow very simple rules and inspired them to be as innovative as they wanted to be in the crochet pattern, mix of colours etc. With these lightbulbs, Rasmus Bækkel Fex created the LIGHTHOPE installation structure for Trapholt’s central gallery, a 50-meter long corridor that all visitors enter. It was like a pergola, signifying a tunnel with light at the end, which we all had to go through during the lock-down. Overall, 2000 people participated on the Facebook platform and 987 participants from Denmark, Iceland, Germany and Faroe Islands contributed with 1629 crocheted lightbulbs. It became a poetic installation down the central corridor gallery welcoming visitors as Trapholt reopened June 1.

LIGHTOPE was a project full of risk. We had no idea how long the lock-down would be, how many contributions we would receive, and how big the pergola construction was to become. We boldly announced that we would continue the project until the day Trapholt could reopen. Through Zoom, we shared the process of constructing the pergola and mounting the lightbulbs with our participants through real time museum visits. We used Zoom to invite the participants to visit the artists in their homes and studios, and the participants could join conversations and ask questions. We created online crochet clubs in Zoom breakout rooms, where people would join in and crochet together across the country. Zoom was a new tool for many, and we had a telephone hotline to help people learn to use it.

Facebook became an important platform for community building. We created a specific Facebook page for the project, where the participants shared thoughts, ideas, yarn, crochet needles etc. 27 people all over Denmark volunteered to gather lightbulbs from their local area. People began to crochet lightbulb earrings and other accessories and shared their contributions, thoughts and stories on Facebook.

When the participants delivered their lightbulbs, we asked them to share thoughts about lock-down. In most testimonials, they expressed gratitude for the LIGHTHOPE community and being part of a meaningful-shared activity during the lock-down. Many commented that they had taken up craft and crochet because of the project, either after many years or as a new hobby. Small daily joys, less stress and few close family relations had replaced busy daily life for some, whereas others felt isolated and lonely. For most people LIGHTHOPE gave them a sense of community and belonging.

The final art piece is a poetic and beautiful artistic expression of the corona lock-down 2020. A pergola of lightbulbs that sway for 50 metres down the Trapholt central corridor gallery. To celebrate the art piece, we created a music video in the installation, for the participants to share with friends and family.

The participants represent a broad spectrum of the Danish population. Geographically the participants came from the same parts of Denmark, as visitors to Trapholt normally do; the Copenhagen area (18%), the local region (45%) and the rest from other regions in Denmark. In this sense, Trapholt had a normal flow of visitors during lock-down, just in a different way.

LIGHTHOPE became the culmination of many years of work with participatory art. The project demonstrated to us that we are an agile organization that was able to transform our previous practice into a virtual format overnight. The positive response from participants gave us the experience of relevance and of being able to contribute to the wellbeing of our surrounding society, and further rooted this kind of work in the organization.



A Polyvocal Museum

Trapholt has a strong tradition of working with participation and engaging the community in a world of isolation and immateriality. The overall aim with a project is always:

● To support community across the participants’ different social and personal backgrounds

● To stimulate creativity and support creative thinking among our participants.

● To empower participants to act and take part in the public conversation.


The target group for the art/craft projects at Trapholt is so-called “normal people”. We invite people doing something (crochet, knitting, woodturning, quilt etc.) rather than people being something (minority). Most of the participants are women 50+ with interest in craft, whose voices are normally not heard in the public debate. This has enabled a number of outstanding art works, which neither artist nor participants could have created alone. In January-March 2020 textile artist Iben Høj invited 778 participants to embroider their social, physical, legal, emotional etc. borders as a part of the national centenary celebration of the reunification of North Schleswig with Denmark. The Danish Arts Foundation awarded the final artwork Stiches Beyond Borders.

During the lockdown in 2021, 740 citizens quilted the artwork Among the Trees commenting on the climate crisis together with textile artist Tina Ratzer. 67% experienced that the project improved their lockdown-wellbeing. For the 2022 collaborative artwork Datamirror, artist Astrid Skibsted invited citizens to download their personal data from Google and Facebook, and through a transition machine transform their personal data into embroidery, while discussing the role of data in our current and future lives. The final artwork Datamirror will become a 6x4 metre artwork presented at Trapholt in November 2022.


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