Denmark’s 95 year old national monument inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the Little Mermaid, is moving to Shanghai to be exhibited for six months in the Danish pavilion at the 2010 World Expo, and Danish lawmakers are not happy. While the government thinks the little mermaid which attracts 3 million visitors annually would be able to give Denmark’s brand a push and draw tourism from China, the Right Wing populist Danish People’s party, leader of the thid largest faction in parliament will have none of it and has planned to block the trip.
Said Karin Nødgaard, chairwoman of the party’s cultural committee:
“It’s a grotesque idea to send our national pride and joy to Asia… No one would come up with the idea of lending out New York’s Statue of Liberty.”
Business owners around the Little Mermaid’s spot in Copenhagen also aren’t too excited about the idea:
“Many people here depend on the mermaid,” said Karina Nielsen, who runs a harbor store selling snacks and miniature mermaid statues to tourists. “We would need something like the Eiffel Tower as a replacement.”
A Canadian retiree in Copenhagen chimes in:
“The mermaid really represents Copenhagen,” says Eleanor Liboiron, 70, a Canadian retiree, gazing at the figure. “The first thing tourists do is walk down here.”
The designer who conceptualised the Danish pavilion explains his decision to move the real statue:
“It would be disrespectful to send a copy of the mermaid,” said Bjarke Ingels, the architect behind the project. “This is an exchange of culture and we want to present to the Chinese people the finest we can offer.”
Ingels’ idea was to have the mermaid sit in a pavilion surrounded by a pool of sea water imported from the Copenhagen harbour (you can’t find clean seawater in Shanghai, you see). Guests to the pavilion would be able to borrow swim suits, take a dip, and even ride bicycles on lanes similar to those you find in Copenhagen. Nice idea, but most of the Danes don’t buy it, it seems. In an Internet poll of 5,647 respondents on the website of Danish broadcaster TV2, 69% of people voted against it.
Photo of the Little Mermaid from julienpons.