Oldest surviving co-operative shop to reopen as a museum

National Museum restoration project funded with Maersk money

One of the first co-operative shops in Denmark will open once more in Østerbro – this time as a museum.

Østerbro’s Husholdningsforening first opened in 1868 in the Brumleby area of the city district. It was in business until 1984, when it was forced to close because of local competition. But now, thanks to a donation of 4.9 million kroner from the AP Møller charitable fund, it will be restored by the Nationalmuseum to its condition in 1870 and will open to visitors by the end of 2016.

The thinking of the time
The opening of the new museum will coincide with the 150th anniversary of the co-operative shop movement in Denmark.

Lykke Lafarque Pedersen, the project leader for the restoration who is a senior researcher in modern history and international culture at the National Museum, explained in a press release that the project will give valuable insight into an important aspect of Danish cultural history.

“The co-operative shop expresses the thinking of the time,” she said. “It’s about pulling together based on the principle of self-help.”

According to Pedersen, the shop in Brumleby is more or less unique.

“The archives of most co-operative shops were thrown out in the 1930s and 1940s, but its archives stayed in the shop,” she explained.

Cultural and commercial insight
“The archives give an outstanding possibility to see what everyday life was like for the people who lived in Brumleby. For example, there are documents about how the co-operative should be run, which products should be stocked and also where you could get a batch of clogs.”

The co-operative movement has been an important part of Danish cultural and commercial life. They are especially common in the Danish agricultural industry, with Arla being an example of such a member-owned organisation.