Don’t know how to spend a rainy Wednesday afternoon? Want to see some art? Want to learn some Danish history? GO TO A MUSEUM!
Hailing from New York (have I not mentioned I go to school in New York City?! Jk, I know I say it way too much and lowkey hate myself for it), I have a plethora of museums to choose from. Copenhagen does not disappoint when it comes to variety in museums: there are history, art, design, sculpture, medical, Jewish, and so many more museums to choose from. Here my thoughts on all of the museums I have been to (so far):
National Museum of Denmark
The National Museum is currently hosting an exhibit called “Meet the Vikings”. In case you didn’t know, Danes are very proud of their Viking heritage. To be honest, I really didn’t know much about Vikings before this exhibit, only having reference to the stereotypical image of a big dude in a horned hat drinking mead. This exhibit showed me a much more extensive look at the daily lives and history of the Vikings, as I learned about the roles, traditions, and symbols of the Viking culture.
Spoiler alert: Vikings did not actually wear horned helmets. Some Vikings didn’t wear any helmets, and those who did had no horns on theirs. In fact, no archeologist has uncovered a Viking-era helmet with horns attached.
The exhibit was filled with artifacts and an actual Viking ship, as well as photograph portraits of an artists’ interpretation of how Vikings must have looked and dressed like based on found artifacts.
In addition to the “Meet the Vikings” exhibit, the National Museum is home to a variety of other very cool historical objects and stories. For one, there is an exhibit about Danish colonies, another part of history I was unfamiliar with.
I got lost several times and stumbled upon Danish artifacts from the 1400s-1700s, which was really cool as there were cups and candlesticks kept in near-perfect condition.
Lastly, I saw this exhibit about toys on the third floor. I can’t really speak to the purpose of it, but it was really cool (pictures below).
If you plan on going to the National Museum, definitely give yourself plenty of time because there is SO MUCH to see. I was there for two hours and feel like I barely scratched the surface.
The Design Museum was the perfect remedy to a snowy Sunday afternoon. It’s free for students so that’s great because who doesn’t love free things?!
The first room I walked into was a bit of overwhelming. Posters, chairs, desks, and appliances were on display, creating a maze-like arrangement that was confusing to navigate.
It was cool to see how many elements of design they were able to incorporate – furniture, appliances, fashion, posters, bicycles. Although I did wish there was more on architectural or urban design since y’all know that is my favorite.
While I would recommend anyone to go to the museum, I do have some beef with it. For one, I would have expected a design museum to be better organized. It was confusing going from room to room with no apparent consistency or journey. One room was dedicated to only chairs. Another was dedicated to a specific style in the 70s. Others were just filled with a mix-match of styles and elements.
Design Museum: if you are reading this and are looking for someone to reorganize your museum, look no further. I am happy to offer up my services.
Not only is there an atrium in the middle of the museum, providing a serene oasis amidst the cold Copenhagen winters, but there is an impressive amount of ancient sculptures from Rome, Greece, and Egypt. As a self-proclaimed Greek mythology nerd (shout out to Percy Jackson), I loved seeing the Greek statues of gods and other mythological characters. I also saw some Plato and Aristotle, which was like, “Oh, I know that guy,” but there was a ton of statues of just nameless Greek and Roman boys which were surprising. Like, imagine getting a bust made of you and then like thousands of years later people 2,700 km away are just staring at you?
The Egyptian statues were also really cool. They even had a crypt with coffins and mummies – I truly was not prepared to see a mummified body and a little warning would have been nice.
There was a gift shop and a café around the atrium, which are nice spots to peruse some books or get a coffee.
ALSO! It’s free on Tuesdays!
Louisiana Museum Of Modern Art
As you approach Louisiana, you think, “oh, this is a pretty little country house” but then you go inside and you’re like “oh woah, this place is huge!” Anyway, that was my experience. Louisiana is like some tech billionaire’s mansion that you’d seen in a movie – modern, a ton of glass, on a small cliff overlooking the ocean. Louisiana was first a very wealthy man’s estate. He had several wives, all named Louise. The owner of the villa decided to name the property after his wives, which is how we get Louisiana (so no, it’s not named after King Louis).
The museum is home to a range of modern art paintings, sculptures, and installations dating from World War II to the present day. I went to Louisiana, which is a 40 min train ride away from central Copenhagen, with one of my classes. We were there to see a temporary exhibit about the architecture group Elemental. The exhibit was super interesting because Elemental is doing really innovative work; they focus on providing affordable housing to communities across the world.
After finishing up at the exhibit, I walked around the rest of the museum, which housed some really thought-provoking pieces of art. I then ventured outside to the sculpture garden. It was pretty cold out, but I could imagine how amazing this space must be in the warmer months. I definitely plan on going back in April or May, so that I can experience it fully.
Not technically a museum, I know, but its overseen by the Natural History Museum of Denmark so I’m including it. The Botanical Garden is a huge park with ponds, trees, flowers, and fields that are free to the public. The Palm House is not free but definitely worth checking out. Each room of the greenhouse contains plants and trees from different climates around the world – warm sub-tropics, dry sub-tropics, aquatic and mangrove plants, and the Mediterranean.
In addition to getting some greenery in my life, I learned a lot! I learned about this one tree that when it blooms its flowers/fruits smell like a dead body. I learned about carnivorous plants and poisons plants – for some reason I find deadly things very interesting so I had a blast. Even if you do not like deadly things, you will still enjoy the Palm House. There are several bonds inside with fish and lily pads. The climate is controlled to mimics the plants’ home climate, so it was a nice escape from the cold to enter 70 degrees Fahrenheit heat – although I could do without the humidity.
Anyway, those are only a few of the museums I have gone to. Hopefully, as the temperatures rise I will be spending less time indoors and more time outside enjoying all the outdoor activities Copenhagen has to offer.
Until next time,