About the exhibition

Life leaves its mark. We get bumps and bruises, and sometimes suffer injuries or breakdowns. We can be patched up and send into the world where the scars and repairs become testimonies to the lives we have lived. This exhibition explores how medicine and technology repair our fragile bodies.
The exhibition is inspired by the Japanese Kintsugi (金継ぎ) tradition, in which broken pottery is visibly repaired using lacquer and gold dust. Kintsugi means “to join with gold”. Instead of hiding the repairs on the ceramic, they are emphasized, hence adding new strength, value and beauty to the object that has been repaired. This exhibition explores Kintsugi as a metaphor for the repairs made to our bodies throughout our lives. In the process, it challenges the common understanding of aging as a process marked by decay and decline.
Kintsugi consists of 37 objects, each an example of a body repair. In some instances, the body has healed a broken bone with new, strong bone tissue on its own, and in other situations the body has had a helping hand from medical science and technology. The exhibited objects come from all parts of the large collections of Medical Museion and showcases both historical and contemporary examples of body repairs.


”The objects show, that in the different reparations, beauty was considered to the same extent as function. It is very clear, that in, e.g., the relatively simple arm protheses with limited function, an effort has been made to mimic minute details of the skin and fingers in the wood”

Curator Anne Bernth Jensen, Medical Museion

Science and technology

Science and technology increase the possibility for repairs.
The idea for the exhibition came into being in collaboration with professor Rudi Westendorp from Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. In his book Kunsten at blive ældre (the art of getting older, Strandberg Publishing 2016), he unfolds a far more positive understanding of aging than what we usually encounter. We get more and more possibilities to repair and enhance ourselves, and just like the Japanese kintsugi-ceramic, we don’t have to consider body repairs as a sign of weakness.

”It is not long ago, that a hip fracture meant the end of life for many people. Today, we successfully use pins and needles to make the bones heal. We are even capable of repairing clogged arteries in our heart by using complicated structures, which would make any goldsmith jealous”

Professor Rudi Westendorp from Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Public Health

Behind the exhibition

Idea: Ken Arnold, Rudi Westendorp
Exhibition group: Anne Bernth Jensen, Anne Kathrine Baastrup, Bente Vinge Pedersen, Nanna Gerdes, Niels Christian Bech Vilstrup
Texts: Anne Bernth Jensen, Bente Vinge Pedersen
Exhibition design: Anne Kathrine Baastrup, Frederikke Sophie Baastrup
Graphic design: Anne Kathrine Baastrup
Video production: Malthe Kouassi Bjerregaard
Conservator work: Nanna Gerdes
Production, total production, print: GSB grafisk and Lauridsen Skilte
Translation: Jane Rowley
Thanks to Rudi Westendorp, professor at Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen; Dinesen and the staff at Medical Museion.