Copenhagen’s Thorvaldsens Museum

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Thorvaldens Museum, Slotsholmen

Throvaldsen’s Museum sits on Slotsholmen Island in central Copenhagen, in the shadow of Christiansborg Palace, former Royal residence and current Danish Parliament. Though the museum is Denmark’s oldest and houses a fascinating array of sculptures, paintings and artifacts, it’s often overshadowed by the city’s many other attractions including the much larger National Gallery of Denmark and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. As a tour guide in Copenhagen, I’ve told many visitors the museum’s story: that Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen spent 40 years in Rome, studying and replicating many of Italy’s great works. He bequeathed his extensive collection to Copenhagen in 1837, and the city began building the museum in his name. Thorvaldsen died in the Royal Theatre in 1844, and his museum would not be completed until 1848, making it the oldest museum in Denmark. The sculptor is buried in the museum’s courtyard.

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The main floor

Though intrigued by the museum’s story and drawn to the beauty of the building, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to visit it myself, but finding myself walking by this week, the miserable weather and the fact that entry was free that day, encouraged me to finally enter. I was pleasantly surprised by the entire experience, not only by the works themselves but by the series of small rooms and incredible frescoes overhead. In each room and hall, I not only admired the artworks themselves but marvelled at the gorgeously painted ceilings just as much.

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Angel with Jesus & the 12 Apostles

The ground floor houses Thorvaldsen’s main works, including a multitude of busts, marble sculptures from mythology, and the plaster models for the Jesus and the Twelve Apostles that are located in Copenhagen Cathedral. The second floor boasts additional sculptures, a replica of Thorvaldsen’s professorial residence at the Charlottenborg Academy, as well as the artist’s collection of paintings and an array of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian artifacts. The lower floor focuses on Thorvalden’s personal possessions and his artistic techniques.

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Thorvaldsen’s painting collection
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Greek artifacts

The museum is quite small and welcoming, and is a nice way to see some artworks without taking too much time away from other plans. Copenhagen is bursting with things to see and do, but if you’re interested in art and are looking for a unique hidden gem to explore (especially on a wet or dreary day), take a wander through Thorvaldsens Museum.

Thorvaldsens Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Entry is 40 DKK and is free of charge on Wednesdays.

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The upper floor

 

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