Scan Magazine, Issue 95, December 2016

Page 82

A trip to prison – get in touch with the shadier side of Denmark On the outskirts of Horsens in Eastern Jutland sits the imposing old Horsens State Prison. Built between 1847 to 1853, the sturdy yellow brick buildings served as a prison for more than 150 years. Since closing down in 2006, the State Prison (FÆNGSLET) has become an all-round attraction drawing crowds of more than 150,000 visitors each year and earning it several prizes for its atmosphere and use of multimedia. In 2016, it was awarded Best Non-British Museum by Museums & Heritages in London. By Marjorie de los Angeles Mendieta  |  Photos: Horsens State Prison

The prison museum offers a new perspective on prison life, quite uncommon to more traditional prison museums. An entire cell block is left virtually untouched with its aura of authenticity, so that visitors may put themselves in the place of inmates. The original graffiti still lines the walls, while multimedia installations projecting shadows and sounds make one feel as if the inmates and guards still linger in the endless corridors. FÆNGSLET’s permanent exhibitions cover the grounds of every corner of the 82  |  Issue 95  |  December 2016

lives of the inmates and the staff. Prison clothing, working tools and escape tools are on display, but the museum also offers more involving experiences like the chance to perform inmate chores and work. After all, FÆNGSLET did see the coming and going of some of the most prominent criminals in Danish history. Carl August Lorentzen was a gentleman thief and a notorious escapologist whose colourful character is still legendary. On Christmas Eve in 1949, he performed one of the most daring and highly publicised escape acts by digging an 18-metre-long

tunnel underneath the prison wall. A replica of the tunnel will open for the public in May 2017 and will also serve as an exit from the premises. Peter Adler Alberti was perhaps FÆNGSLET’s most renowned inmate. From 1901 to 1908 he had been Minister of Justice in Denmark, but shortly after resigning as minister he turned himself in for embezzlement amounting to a staggering 15 million Danish kroner – a huge sum of money in those days. During his time in office he had reinstated corporal punishment in the Danish penal system and was, understandably, not well-liked in the prison milieu. He was released after eight years, two of which were served in Horsens State Prison, citing medical issues. The prison courtyard of FÆNGSLET served as the stage for the last peace time execution in Denmark in 1892. The museum exhibits the executioner’s authentic

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