The National Gallery of Denmark or Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is Denmark’s largest collection of art and a good place to start if you’re making your way from the inner city of Copenhagen towards Østerbro. The ambition is to present Danish art to the world and the world’s art to Denmark. The museum’s origins are the art collections of the Danish monarchs through out the ages, dating back all the way to 1521 when German painter Albrecht Dürer donated ”the best copies of all of my prints” to King Christian II.
The current building on Sølvgade was built in 1896 by architect Vilhelm Dahlerup who also designed the Royal Theatre and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. In 1998 a new wing was opened consisting of a modern building which lies parallel to the original, the two structures being connected by the glass paneled ”street of sculptures” walkway.
The museums collection has grown over the years and a lot of modern and contemporary art has been added. You can see Rembrandt and Matisse as well as Danish heavy weights Bjørn Nørgaard and Per Kirkeby. Both the permanent and the temporary exhibitions are well worth a visit.
Q&A with Lise Korsgaard
Communications Manager at SMK
What is the most important task for SMK?
SMK is Denmark’s largest museum and the main museum in the country for the visual arts. You can discover over 700 years worth of art from all over the world here. We try to give our visitors different entry points into our collection. For instance through temporary exhibitions, workshops and tours. And once a month we do an event called SMK Fridays where we present art, food, drinks and DJs from the art world.
Why is SMK important for a city like Copenhagen?
Together with the city’s many other cultural institutions we help to give the city its spirit and to create a space for exploration and new experiences. We put the focus on visual arts and the museum in itself together with the garden and the parks surrounding it is a beautiful and inspiring place to go and explore.
What’s your favorite place in Copenhagen (except for SMK…)?
The cities many parks and spaces to relax is what makes Copenhagen such a special place. Every park has its own vibe and histroy. Many of the parks are located on the cities old ramparts and if you take a walk in Østre Anlæg, Botanisk Have and Ørstedsparken you can still see the remnants from these.
Would you like to recommend something?
One of the newest inner city havens is well worth mentioning: Superkilen in Nørrebro. It’s a multi cultural urban space created in collaboration between the artist collective Superflex, BIG Architects and the local inhabitants in the area. There’s something special about it and there’s lots of room to take a breather or just to grab a cup of coffee.
Check out the different upcoming events at SMK here: