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The history of The Kellerske Institutions on Livø

Visit Livø and experience a piece of Danish history up close. For 50 years, Livø was home to criminals, troubled youth, and mentally challenged individuals. They lived side by side in the white buildings on the island, dreaming of the land of freedom on the other side of the fjord.

In 1911, Livø was taken over by The Kellerske Institutions, which was Denmark’s largest institution for mentally deficient and learning-disabled people. For the next 50 years, Livø was used as an island for prisoners, populated by criminal men and learning-disabled people. Today, doctors would not label them as learning-disabled, but especially in the 1920-30s people were afraid that these individuals would have children.

The aim with The Kellerske Institutions at Livø was, therefore, not only to get these citizens to be on the right track. It was also to prevent, that they did not reproduce themselves when they got off the island. This meant, that if they got engaged after they had left the island, they would be brought back to Livø.

Today, when you are visiting Livø, you will therefore experience the same surroundings, which the mentally deficient people back then could call their home. The white buildings with red tiles are originated from when The Kellerske Institutions controlled the island.