The Alchemist’s Laboratory

In recent years, Cecilia has travelled extensively in Italy, visiting museums of natural history and studying original old manuscripts on alchemy. These travels prompted the creation of her large, wordless book Atlas of Small and Large Observations, which forms the basis of this entire exhibition. The drawings and collages contained within the book were all inspired by a sense of wonder and an urge to classify a wide range of observations – some real, some imaginary.

Taking its starting point in the ancient ideas of alchemy, where science, art and magic coexisted, The Alchemist’s Laboratory invites you to go explore, discover and create. The exhibition encourages dynamic, intuitive exploration. A journey of discovery where you will be fascinated and struck with wonder by familiar things placed in new contexts.

The works presented in this exhibition engage directly with you and your senses, throwing little obstacles up along the way. You also get the opportunity to come up with your own stories, narratives and interpretations. Questions arise and conversations are begun – between children and adults and among the children themselves.

The Alchemist’s Laboratory is an innovative and  participatory art exhibition that has a special appeal to all ages. The exhibition concept and content is created by artist Cecilia Westerberg and exhibition architect Stine Friese.



Look around, touch, feel and listen your way through the Wunderkammer. Search the alchemist’s cupboards and shelves for mysterious objects and extraordinary finds – and take part in creating your very own version of an imaginary animal.


This room is inspired by the book Tractatus de Herbis from circa 1440 – a magical tome consisting entirely of pictures that show, without any words, which plants can be used to heal diseases. Sit down by the large crafting desk to make your own things inspired by what you see and do in this room.


Here you can explore a library of colours – and a colour sample cabinet presenting you with no less than 100 different hues. Climb into the cabinet to listen to stories about colours – including the world’s most expensive pigment, Lapis Lazuli, and the colour known as dragon’s blood. Perhaps you’ll also find the yellow that’s made out of urine from cows who have eaten mangoes.


Become part of a great shadow play where everything is transformed, entering into new contexts. Create your own story – you can use the props you find in the room as inspiration. Unleash your imagination, and there’s no end to where the show can go.

Links to academic report about the exhibition:

Link to text about the thoughts behind:

The Alchemist’s Laboratory is a collaborative project created by Vendsyssel Kunstmuseum in Hjørring, the Skovgaard Museum in Viborg, Vejle Kunstmuseum and J.F. Willumsens Museum in Frederikssund in Denmark.

Sound stories: Rikke Houd

Space Design: Stine Friese

Light design: Åsa Frankenberg & Yaw Darko

Photocredits: David Stjernholm, Emil Brøbech, Niels Fabæk, Helene Toresdotter