Public Health

Is Copenhagen’s Cisternerne an Art Museum or Public Health Museum?

This weekend prior attending ISPOR 2023 in Copenhagen, I visited the Cisternerne Museum. The museum is a unique as it a (literal) underground art museum that is housed in a former water reservoir (and dripstone cave). While the museum currently had an interesting light-based art exhibit from South Korean artist Kimsooja, perhaps even more interesting was the Cisterne’s history.

During the summer of 1853, the Danish capital was hit by a cholera epidemic that killed 4,742 people over the course of a few months. With a population of approximately 130,000 the epidemic was nothing less than a human disaster.

The Cholera epidemic, therefore, became the starting point for focusing on public health and for rethinking the water supply and infrastructure of the capital.

In addition to abandoning the old ramparts that surrounded the center of the city, it was decided that, going forward, the wastewater should be discharged into the harbor. In that way, the wastewater was separated from the drinking water, which thereby could remain clean on its way to the citizens of the city.

From Damhussøen, outside the capital, the water ran through Ladegårdsåen to five large filtration basins near the Sankt Jørgens Sø. Here th water was filratedthrough a layer of stone, gravel and sand, and was subsequently led to the citizens and up to the reservoir here in Søndermarken via Pumpehuset in the center of openhagen.

Interestingly, the Pumpehuset water supply building in Copenhagen is now a concert venue.

Hopefully I will see many of my readers at ISPOR 2023 this week!