Karen Blixen´s private home is open to the public. The rooms are almost exactly as Karen Blixen decorated and arranged them, giving a vivid impression of the writer’s day-to-day surroundings. Some of the furniture came from the farm in Africa, including Denys Finch Hatton’s favourite chair and the chest that Karen Blixen’s steward, Farah, gave her. A number of the old stoves in the rooms came from Danish manor houses once owned by Karen Blixen’s relatives
A small room has been converted into a gallery showing Karen Blixen’s African portrait paintings , charcoal drawings from her time as a student at the Academy of Art and some pastels. In the large drawing room Karen Blixen used to sit with her guests in front of the marble chimney-piece and it was here that she made her popular radio broadcasts during the 1950s and gave some of her television interviews. There are fresh flower arrangements in all the rooms, in the same style as those with which Karen Blixen decorated the house.
THE STUDY “EWALD´S ROOM”
During the last years of her life, Karen Blixen arranged her study, “Ewald’s Room”, as a kind of memorial room. Thomas Dinesen’s collection of African weapons was hung on the wall behind the desk; Statens Museum for Kunst (the Danish National Gallery) lent her the bust of Johannes Ewald that still stands on top of Wilhelm Dinesen’s gun cabinet. Karen Blixen’s painting of a stuffed toucan bird hangs on the wall; she painted it in Africa and gave it to Denys Finch Hatton. In May, 2004, the new rooms at The Karen Blixen Museum were opened. Caroline Carlsen, who came to Rungstedlund in 1949 as the housekeeper, and who died in 2003, had these rooms as her private apartment. They have now been modernized and the two new rooms are:
1. The bird room has at the moment a special exhibition about Rungstedlund´s long, rich history – not only the buildings own history but the comings and goings of a whole array of people who have passed through. Exhibitions in this room are mainly related to themes about birds.
2. The film room shows a Karen Blixen-film (12 minutes.) The film, made in 2004, by Laurits Munch-Petersen is called: Imagine – Karen Blixen´s Stories.
This film is in dialogue with existing documentation, and it gives a refreshing new and different angle towards the works of Blixen.
GARDEN AND GROVE
Rungstedlund’s 14 acres of land, comprising garden and grove, is maintained as a bird sanctuary and is open all day.
A WALK IN THE PARK
A walk beginning at the main entrance to the Museum follows a path running past the pond and white bridge leading to the orchard and the flower garden, which supplies the rooms with fresh flowers in season. The path leads up to the highest point of the grove, “Ewald’s Hill”. Karen Blixen is buried under the large beech tree at the foot of the hill. The little hill is named “Ewald” because the writer Johannes Ewald mentions it in his autobiographical novel Levnet og Meninger (Life and Thoughts, published 1804-08) and an earlier owner of the house erected a memorial stone to him on the hill. In 1961 Karen Blixen planted the Manor Grove, to the west of Ewald’s Hill, with trees from the various country houses throughout Denmark with which she had connections.
THE SAME TREES THROUGH WHICH EWALD STROLLED
The grove is a forest reserve with beech trees, many of which are between 250 and 300 years old. The poet Johannes Ewald walked among the same trees when he lodged at Rungsted Inn in the late 1700s. The benches in the grove are named after birds, or people with a personal link to the house – for example: “The Lady’s Bench” named after Karen Blixen’s mother, Ingeborg Dinesen; “Clara’s Bench” after Clara Selborn, Karen Blixen’s secretary and literary executor; “Madam Carlsen’s Bench” after Caroline Carlsen who was for many years housekeeper at Rungstedlund.
In a radio broadcast in July 1958, Karen Blixen talked about her plans to make Rungstedlund a protected area in order to provide a stop-over site for migratory birds. She asked her listeners to give one krone each to the Rungstedlund Foundation so that the plans could be carried out. 80,000 listeners responded to her request.
The Bird Sanctuary is supervised by the Danish Ornithological Society, which has hung and maintains approx. 200 nesting boxes – 40 different species of bird now breed in the sanctuary.
N.B.: Dogs must be kept on a leash!