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Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Nyhavn

Occupying the space where Copenhagen’s botanical gardens used to be, Kunsthal Charlottenborg is an ivy-laden red-brick structure built by architects Ferdinand Meldahl and Albert Jensen in 1883. Created as an extension of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which sits just across its quiet courtyard, the exhibition hall was created to host salons and annual member shows. Despite becoming independent about a decade ago, the museum now plays host to the students’ graduation shows once more. The programme also includes major contemporary-art exhibitions and retrospectives, as well as concerts and film screenings, all of which take place across an expansive and wide-windowed upper floor.

2 Nyhavn, 1051
+45 3374 4639
charlottenborg.dk

Thorvaldsens Museum, city centre

The burnt-orange building of the Thorvaldsens Museum looks as it did when it was built in 1848 as Denmark’s first public museum. Its purpose? To house the life’s work of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), who studied in Copenhagen before travelling to Rome – and finding fame – in 1797. The frieze that wraps around the two-storey museum shows Thorvaldsen’s welcome-home reception in 1838 and the rooftop “Victory” sculpture symbolises what he achieved. 

Inside are neoclassical sculptures, as well as sketches and objects from antiquity. As you admire the bronze and marble figures, remember to look up and down – equally impressive are the starry ceiling and mosaics beneath your feet.

2 Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads, 1213
+45 3332 1532
thorvaldsensmuseum.dk
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Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, city centre

If you’re after something offbeat, try this space that’s home to Denmark’s oldest artists’ association: Den Frie Udstilling. Inspired by Paris’s Salon des Refuses, it was founded in 1891 as an alternative to the juried spring exhibition at the Academy Charlottenborg. It remains a platform for experimental artists whose creations wouldn’t hang comfortably in public museums or commercial art galleries. The Greek and Egyptian-themed pavilion that houses the association is as quirky as the art.

1 Oslo Plads, 2100
+45 3312 2803
denfrie.dk

Images: Jan Søndergaard

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