Danmark's Forsorgsmuseum

Top choice museum

in Svendborg

This highly thought-provoking 'welfare museum' is housed in Svendborg's old poorhouse, within which paupers lived segregated by sex, as virtual prisoners during its century of operation (from 1872). They became forced labourers making rope-matting or doing mindless chores like packing bundles of ice-lolly sticks.

There were two ways to be admitted to this institution – the 'worthy' poor (the elderly or those with disabilities, for example), or the 'unworthy poor' (capable of work but unemployed, alcoholics, vagrants or 'women of easy virtue'). It's hard to reconcile this with today's equitable Danish society, but the museum does an excellent job in explaining the times and extending the debate to ponder today's attitude to the destitute.