DieselHouse celebrates and explains the role of the diesel engine, particularly the marine diesel engine, during more than a century of development. It also commemorates the work of the outstanding Danish engineering firm Burmeister & Wain, dating from 1843, which gained the Danish rights for the engine patented by Rudolf Diesel in 1895, and produced its first diesel engine in 1903-04. The company provided the engine for the MV Selandia, the first diesel-powered ocean-going merchant ship, which left Copenhagen on her maiden voyage to Bangkok in 1912. Subsequently Burmeister & Wain became one of the world’s principal suppliers of marine diesel engines. The shipbuilding and engineering sections of Burmeister & Wain were split into two separate companies in 1971, and in 1980 the latter became a subsidiary of the German company MAN AG.
The MAN Diesel company and the city museum service collaborated to set up DieselHouse which opened in 2006 in the former machine hall of the H C Ørsted power station in Copenhagen’s southern docklands. Its centrepiece is an engine built by Burmeister & Wain for the power station in 1932, 24.5 m. long and 12.5 m tall and weighing 1,400 tonnes, which generated 15MW, equivalent to 22,500 h.p. It supplied electric power to Copenhagen for 30 years. The machine hall was adapted to meet the needs of a museum with three new storeys providing exhibition space. The displays show how diesel engines are used for many purposes in all parts of the world, and include models of diesel-powered ships, components of engines and many historic photographs. DieselHouse prides itself in being ‘an experience centre for diesel technology’, and is the setting for cultural events of many kinds.