'Metaforkirkegården' ('The Cemetery of Metaphors') - Atlas Obscura

'Metaforkirkegården' ('The Cemetery of Metaphors')

Sorø, Denmark

A small artistic "graveyard" where clichéd expressions have been buried. 


A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two unlike things by asserting that one is the other, implying a similarity or analogy between them. For instance, describing “Atlas Obscura is a compass for exploring hidden wonders” is a metaphor. Here, the comparison likens the online magazine to a magnetic navigation device, illustrating how the website serves as a guide pointing towards fascinating and lesser-known destinations.

While some metaphors can radiate poetic beauty or showcase clever wit, enriching the expressiveness of languages, others have surpassed their prime and turned so banal that they perhaps should be buried for good. The latter sentiment is echoed by Danish poet and visual artist Morten Søndergaard. His satirical artwork, ‘Metaforkirkegården’ (‘The Cemetery of Metaphors’), adorns an exterior wall of Sorø Art Museum in Sorø, featuring 15 tombstone-like marble plaques. Instead of “R.I.P.,” these stoneworks bear inscriptions of weary metaphors and worn-out phrases like “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” “Have a nice day,” and “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

This small artistic and linguistic “graveyard” was inaugurated in 2019 as part of the museum’s exhibition ‘Sproghospitalet’ (‘The Language Hospital’), for which Søndergaard served as a curator. Some of the well-known expressions on the “tombstones” were chosen because of the event’s overarching theme of life and death. The exhibition endured only for a few months, yet ‘Metaforkirkegården’ evolved into a permanent installation outside the museum. 

Know Before You Go

Admission to Sorø Art Museum is ticketed, but access to ‘Metaforkirkegården’ in the enclosed front courtyard is free. Do note that when the museum is closed, so is the courtyard. The artwork is, therefore, available to the public only during the museum's opening hours, usually in the afternoons from Tuesday to Sunday. For the latest information, please check the website.

Sorø is a small town just under an hour's drive or train ride southwest of Copenhagen. There's an outdoor parking lot next to the REMA 1000 supermarket, only a block away from the museum. For train travelers, the station is 1.2 miles (2 km) south of the museum, and you can get there with a quick bus ride or a straightforward 25-minute hike.

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November 24, 2023

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