The Place Where Happiness Is Tangible

By Pernille Asmussen & Wissam Nasrallah

Happiness, by definition, is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. It may differ from one person to another of what makes them happy or not, but what is certain, is that no one can point with their finger at happiness the way they do when seeing a bird in the sky. 

Nevertheless, a new meaning was introduced to the concept of happiness in Copenhagen, where this feeling of joy, which was always thought to be intangible, is measured, scaled, and presented as artifacts. 

“A small museum about big things in life”, says the home website page of The Happiness Museum, located in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark. The Museum, which opened for the first time in July 2020, was founded by the Happiness Research Institute located a few meters away from it, and has almost welcomed one thousand guests from around the world.

Onor Hanreck Wilkinson, a researcher at the institute, affirms in an interview conducted during a visit to the museum, that according to the World Happiness report 2021, Denmark is the second happiest country in the world, while Copenhagen is the fifth happiest city.

Items and notes from visitors to the Happiness Museum of what they consider to bring Happiness. Wissam Nasrallah

Happiness Measurement Tools

Wilkinson explains that there are three main dimensions adopted by the World Happiness report that were found to impact happiness. “The affective dimension, or the day to day emotions, captures an individual experience of happiness, whereas life evaluation, which is the second dimension, takes into account the political and social contexts; it allows a wider focus. The third dimension is life purpose, and pushes the person to think about how they are contributing to the greater community,” clarifies Wilkinson. 

“The rankings of national happiness are based on a ladder scale survey,” says Wilkinson as she proceeds “think of a ladder, with the best possible life for you being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0, then you may have an approach to how happy you actually are.”

Wilkinson also explains that there are many different factors that may affect national happiness, such as GDP per Capita and crime rate, as she states: “It is not a math equation where you get a precise answer, but you may have a glance at how much people are happy or not.”

Interactive world map showing the ranking of happiness per country. Pernille Amussen & Wissam Nasrallah
Picture from the Happiness Museum. Wissam Nasrallah

“Are people expected to be happier when visiting the museum?” is one of the concerns that usually comes up to mind when knowing that a happiness museum exists, and Wilkinson responds: “I hope that visitors will better understand the things that do matter for happiness and things that do not.”

Happiness posters. Penille Asmussen

 This story is mainly written for tourists visiting Copenhagen and could be published on


Onor Hanreck Wilkinson – Researcher at The Happiness Research Institute.

Parker-Pope, T. (n.d.). How to Be Happy. Retrieved from

Lykkemuseet: København. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2020, from