Statens Museum for Kunst  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Statens Museum for Kunst (English: "Statens Museum" or sometimes "National Gallery of Denmark") is the Danish national gallery located in Copenhagen.

The museum collects, registers, maintains, researches in and handles Danish and foreign art dating from the 14th Century till the present day, mostly with their origins in western culture circles. As far as the Danish art is concerned the museum must invest in and maintain representative collections.



The collections of the Danish National Gallery originates in the Art Chamber (Danish: Kunstkammeret) of the Danish monarchs. When the German Gerhard Morell became Keeper of Frederik V's Art Chamber about 1750, he suggested that the king create a separate collection of paintings. To ensure that the collection was not inferior to those of other European royal houses and local counts, the king made large-scale purchases of Italian, Netherlandish and German paintings. The collection became particularly well provided with Flemish and Dutch art. The most important purchase during Morell's term as Keeper was Christ as the Suffering Redeemer by Andrea Mantegna.

Since then a great variety of purchases have been made. During the 19th century the works were almost exclusively by Danish artists, and for this reason the Museum has an unrivalled collection of paintings from the so-called Danish Golden Age. That the country was able to produce pictures of high artistic quality was something new, and a consequence of the establishment of the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in 1754.

More recently, the collection has been influenced by generous donations and long-term loans. In 1928 Johannes Rump's large collection of early French Modernist paintings was donated to the Museum. This was followed by purchases of paintings and sculpture in the French tradition.


The museum was designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup and G.E.W. Møller and built 1889-96 in a Historicist Italian Renaissance revival style.

In autumn 1998, an extension was opened designed by the architects Anna Maria Indrio and Mads Møller from Arkitektfirmaet C. F. Møller. This new building was constructed in the park behind the original building and is connected to it by a glass-covered walkway, 'the street of sculptures'. The 'street' stretches along the full length of the museum, and within it concerts and dance performances are held.

The old and new buildings are connected by one large-scale amalgamation between past and present. Facing the front is the old building and from Østre Anlæg is a new and modern building - seen from the side is a glass-covered street that connects the old and new buildings.


The museum's collections constitute almost 9,000 paintings and sculptures, approx. 300,000 works of art on paper as well as more than 2,600 plaster casts of figures from ancient times, the middle-ages and the Renaissance. The major part of the museum's older collections comes from the art chambers of Danish kings.

Royal Painting & Sculpture Collection

The museum contains collections of art dating from the twelfth century. In the older European and Danish collections there are represantations by Mantegna, Titian, Tintoretto, Breugel, Rubens, Jordaens, Frans Hals, Bloemaert, Gysbrechts and Rembrandt.

The modern collection comprises works by Picasso, Braque, Leger, Matisse, Modigliani and Emil Nolde. Local Danish painters are richly represented with the styles of C.W. Eckersberg, Oluf Høst, Edward Weihe, Olaf Rude and Haral Giersing as well as the Danish sculptor Carl Bonnesen.

Modern art is a substantial part of the Royal Collection of Paintings and Sculpture. The collection is representative, not only of Danish art history, but also of foreign art which has influenced Danish artists. Thus the museum has a considerable collection of paintings by Emil Nolde and an important selection of American and German contemporary art.

Explore Icons in the collection of Statens Museum for Kunst.

Royal Cast Collection

World Art - cast in plaster plaster casts of statues and reliefs from collections, museums, temples, churches, and public places throughout the world meet in Vestindisk Pakhus in Toldbodgade, near the Royal Palace of Amalienborg. Here, you will find casts of sculptures from antiquity through to the Renaissance: Egyptian Kings and mythical beasts, Greek gods and human beings, Roman Emperors and scenes of battle and sacrifice. You will also find Christian imagery from medieval Romanesque/Norman and Gothic cathedrals. And the revival of the ideals of antiquity seen during the Renaissance is reflected in the works of Michelangelo - amply represented in this collection.

This collection testifies to beauty, drama, imaginative force, and history of thought from as far back as 2500 BC and up until the year 1600. 4,000 years of sculpture under one roof.

Of course, it would be impossible to establish a collection of this calibre with original sculptures of bronze and marble. With a collection of casts, however, it is possible to choose only the best of the best - and this is exactly what has happened here!

Ancient sculpture - present significance The imagery and styles of antiquity have influenced all subsequent European art and continues to play a major part, even though this may sometimes be difficult to see. Shapes and ideals shift and change through history - there have been revivals, and there have been breaks with tradition - but the significance and importance of history is ever prominent.

Parts of the Royal Cast Collection date back to the mid-18th century, where casts were used by art students in drawing classes at the newly established Academy of Fine Arts. During the period around the establishment of Statens Museum for Kunst in 1896, efforts to ensure the education and refinement of Danish citizens through classical art was the primary objective of the collection.

Today, the individual works of the collection are presented in close proximity to each other - in a manner which is somewhat reminiscent of a depot. It is certainly possible to detect a chronological history and to trace the artistic development and changes in style throughout history. But the main objective of the presentation is to provide an impression of the physical, historical contexts of the sculptures - in Greek temples, in Roman villas, in public squares, and in collections.

How are the casts made? Nowadays, casts are made in moulds using silicone rubber. This material reaches into the deepest recesses of the original, and is easy to peel off.

The process was rather more complex and cumbersome in the old days. It was possible to use moulds made from clay or bone glue, but the usual method was to use solid moulds made from plaster. These moulds were painstakingly constructed around the originals, sometimes in several hundred individual pieces, disassembled, and reassembled to be filled with plaster in order to produce cast replicas.

Prints and drawings

A collection of works on paper The Collection of Prints and Drawings contains about 300,000 works: copperprints, drawings, etchings, watercolours, lithographic works and other kinds of art on paper. Here you will find pictures created in our own time as well as some from the 15th century. However, the collection is not quite as old as that. The first beginnings were made around the time of Christian II. In his diary from 1521 the German painter Albrecht Dürer says that the painter has given the King "the best pieces of all my prints".

In 1843 the collection, which had so far been the king's private collection, opened to the public. When the present Statens Museum for Kunst was finished in 1896, the Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings was moved into the building together with The Royal Collection of Paintings and The Royal Cast Collection.

Although the collection contains a great number of foreign works, Danish art makes out the main part of the acquisitions. Nowhere in the world can you get such a detailed and broad overview over Danish art from the 17th century until the present day. The works of the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition, the special exhibitions of the Department and, as something quite special, in the Print Room of the museum.

The Children's Museum of Art

In The Children's Museum of Art there are exhibitions at children's eye-level, taking their starting point in the world of children. With art as the point of departure, the whole family can investigate exciting themes together and experience wonderful new worlds. Go exploring the exhibitions and visit the workshops and create your own works of art.

Egmont Knowledge Centre

Is a new resource offered to the Museum's guests. The Knowledge center makes it possible to get close to art from many new and different angles – it is for people of all ages and widely varying interests.

u.l.k. Art Labs

In the u.l.k - Art Labs you can discover, contribute, produce, share and create new knowledge and new art together with other young people. Be challenged, exploit the possibility and tell about how you think art should be tackled and understood.

Danish National Art Library

The Danish National Art Library offers you new knowledge, inspiration and the possibility for absorption, whether you are interested in art, a student or a researcher. Here you can find inspiration and increase your knowledge about themes, artists and works that interest you.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Statens Museum for Kunst" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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