From Denmark’s Aquarium to National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet

The story of Denmark’s Aquarium began on Christmas Eve 1934.

Engineer Knud Højgaard and his son, zoologist Mogens Højgaard, are taking their annual walk through the forest. Mogens describes his dream of building greenhouses for amphibians and fish – if he owned the forest, that is.

With that, the idea for Denmark’s Aquarium comes into being, as Knud Højgaard replies to his son that ‘it’s something worth talking about’.

Five years later, in 1939, Denmark’s Aquarium opens to the public.

Visitors faint in droves

The first public aquarium in Denmark – which in 1939 is also the second largest in Europe – is a huge crowd puller. In just one month nearly 77,000 people visit the new aquarium.

Overcrowding inside the aquarium means that visitors have to be allowed into the building in groups. And although the aquarium has a wide corridor with four side halls, the ventilation is unfortunately so poor that many visitors faint.

War hits the aquarium

The Second World War breaks out the same year that Denmark’s Aquarium opens. The war makes it impossible for fish to be imported into the country. In spite of this, the aquarium manages to stay supplied with marine animals, but the number of species on display is reduced.

During the summer of 1944, Denmark is affected by a general strike. This is catastrophic for Denmark’s Aquarium, as it means no electricity for the fish tanks.

With director Mogens Højgaard leading the way, the aquarium staff use pedal power to keep tanks supplied with sufficient oxygen.

Denmark’s Aquarium expands

By 1974 the Aquarium is in need of refurbishment, and two new sections are opened. Visitors now have access to five new impressive landscape aquariums and a biological museum.

More than a decade later, in 1989, Denmark’s Aquarium celebrates its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, Knud Højgaard’s Foundation donates an annex to the aquarium for use as a café. The café is ready to welcome visitors a year later.

Charlottenlund is too small

More annexes are added as the years pass. But Denmark’s Aquarium is still outgrowing its buildings in Charlottenlund.

More space and modern facilities become a necessity in the mid-1990s. But the grounds of the building are protected, and this makes it impossible to remain in Charlottenlund.

National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet comes into being

After a number of years spent raising funds through foundations and other means, an architecture competition is launched in 2007. A new aquarium is to be built, and Tårnby Municipality on Amager makes a waterfront location available for the project.

The Danish architect’s studio 3XN is the winner of the international architecture competition. The new aquarium, National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet, is now a reality.

In March 2013, 3,000 marine animals are moved from the old Denmark’s Aquarium building in Charlottenlund to National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet on Amager, where they are joined by 17,000 new marine animals.

National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet now has 20,000 fish and marine animals in 53 tanks with a total of seven million litres of water.

The building’s architecture is inspired by the shape of a whirlpool, and even before National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet opened its doors, the building was being heralded as ‘Denmark’s best flagship project’ within tourism and the experience economy.