The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek has two world-class exhibitions: the largest antiquities collection in Scandinavia and a fine collection of 19th century Danish and French art.
Visitors to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in the center of Copenhagen enjoy two completely diverse themes in the same museum: 19th century Danish and French art and the most important collection of ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean art in northern Europe. The European art in the Glyptotek is particularly known for its large collection of sculptures as well as Danish Golden Age and French Impressionist paintings. The vast collection of antiquities is shown in an exhibition on the cultures of the Mediterranean and ancient Egyptian, classic Greek and Roman art and statues. Admission is free on Tuesdays.
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914) of the famous Carlsberg beer-brewing dynasty. He was an avid art collector and donated his art and antiquities collections to the Danish nation. Then, as indeed now, the exhibitions of the Glyptotek reflects his interests: 19th century Danish and French art, which was largely modern and contemporary during his lifetime, as well as an astonishingly large and important collection of art and objects from antiquity.
The original Glyptotek building, designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup opened in 1897 to house the art collection. A decade later, the famous winter garden with impressive cupola and a second building by Hack Kampmann opened to house the collection of antiquities. In 1996, a further building was added to house the French paintings.
Currently, the permanent exhibitions in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek are divided into the following main exhibitions:
- Danish paintings
- French paintings
- French and Danish sculptures
- Degas Sculptures
- Ancient Art
- The Ancient Mediterranean
Many of the displays are theme based. The Glyptotek generally does not attempt to present a comprehensive overview or chronological display of the periods involved but rather shows the best pieces available to illustrate a theme or specific group of artists.
Danish Art in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Danish art in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is mostly from the nineteenth century. The main emphasis here is on paintings from the Danish Golden Age – ca. 1800-1860.
Works are mostly displayed thematically such as the Golden Age dreams of antiquity and Italy, landscapes, portraits, and the virtuosity of the age.
Famous painters represented include C.W. Eckersberg, Jens Juel, Christen Købke and the Norwegian painter J.C. Dahl. A special section is dedicated to the works of Herman Freund – this German-born sculptor was long the principle assistant of the most famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.
This collection is a good introduction to Danish and Nordic Golden Age paintings, especially for visitors unable to see the vast collection on display in the National Gallery of Denmark.
French Art in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Glyptotek owns the largest collection of French 19th-century art and Impressionist art in Denmark. Helge Jacobsen, son of the museum’s founder, donated many works.
The French paintings range in style from the romantics to realism but Impressionism is particularly well represented. The museum owns 47 works by Paul Gauguin. The specific works on display rotate frequently.
Danish and French Sculptures in the Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek exhibits a large collection of mostly nineteenth-century sculptures by French and Danish sculptors. The emphasis is on classical style marble figures but the collection also includes a number of bronzes by Rodin and Degas, as well as newer works.
In addition to Bertel Thorvaldsen, talented 19th-century Danish sculptors included Vilhelm Bissen, Herman Wilhelm Bissen, Jerichau and Freund.
The Glyptotek owns 42 works by Rodin with statues on display including such famous works as The Kiss, The Thinker, and Burghers of Calais.
Jacobsen called his collection a Glyptotek – a repository of sculptures rather than an academic museum display. Most of the sculptures are free standing allowing visitors to admire it from all sides and up close.
Degas Sculptures in the Glyptotek in Copenhagen
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek has a magnificent collection of 72 Degas bronze sculptures – one of only four museums in the world with a full set of Edgar Degas’ studies of dancers, women and horses.
The collection includes a bronze copy of his most famous sculpture: The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer (1880-81). The original in wax was the only sculpture Degas ever exhibited during his life (now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.).
It is surprisingly easy to completely miss the Degas room, as it is not clearly marked on many of the museum maps. It is currently on its own half a level up from the Danish art floor – use the elevator or stairs from room 30.
Antiquities in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek has the largest collection of antiquities in Scandinavia. It is currently divided into two permanent displays: Ancient Art and the Ancient Mediterranean.
The Ancient Art collection covers mostly Egyptian (3000 BC – AD 400), Greek (600 – 100 BC) and Roman (100 BC to AD 500) art. The Egyptian collection includes the traditional themes of burial chambers and religion while the focus of the Roman and Greek displays are mostly marble sculptures.
Don’t miss the Central Hall of the Glyptoteket. The architecture was inspired by a Greek temple with ionic colonnades lining three sides and a Greek temple façade above the stage. Carl Jacobsen paid for this hall so much of the detailing is in real marble. Roman portrait statues are placed between the columns with marble sarcophagi and tomb art in the colonnades. The hall has wonderful acoustics and is often used for concerts.
The Ancient Mediterranean covers the cultural history of civilizations from Afghanistan to Spain from around 6000 AD to the end of the Roman Empire around AD 400. The museum shows how the Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans lived, traded, worshipped, died, and presumable lived after dead.
The nearby free National Museum of Denmark also has a surprisingly fine collection of antiquities in addition to the huge Danish culture and history displays.
Visitors Information for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Opening Hours of the Glyptoteket
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 18:00 (closing at 22:00 on Thursday – usually 18:00 if on a holiday).
The museum is closed on Mondays, January 1, June 5, December 24 and 25.
The small café in the winter garden serves drinks and small lunches. A further café on the roof opens according to the season.
Photography is mostly allowed. Drawing of most works is allowed (but in pencil only). Folding chairs and drawing boards may be borrowed for free.
Admission Tickets for the Glyptoteket
Admission to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is DKK115, free for children up to 18, and DKK50 for 18 to 27.
Admission to the permanent collection is free for all on Tuesday (but DKK60 for temporary exhibitions).
Free guided tours in English are given mid-June to mid-September at noon and 13:00.
Most of the descriptions in the museum are in both Danish and English.
What to See in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket is much too big to properly enjoy in a single visit. It may be sensible to concentrate on one or two collections and just glance at the highlights of others if a return visit is not possible.
The Danish art (mostly paintings) is on the third level of the Dahlerup building, where the main entrance is located. Danish and French sculptures are on the second level of the same building with entrances also from the winter garden. The Degas room is at the top level of this building – not clearly marked on all floor plans.
The Ancient Art collection is on the lower level and the Ancient Mediterranean exhibition (and Central Hall) on the upper level of the Kampmann building – enter from the winter garden.
Location and Transportation of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, Dantes Plads 7, DK-1556 Copenhagen V, tel. +45 33 41 81 41 is located in central Copenhagen at the back of the Tivoli Gardens funfair park.
The entrance is from H.C. Andersens Boulevard but don’t miss the free park at the back of the building with a Thinker and other sculptures.
Walking and cycling are the easiest transportation options from most other sights (and the main train station) in central Copenhagen. Buses 1A, 2A and 9A stop at the museum (stop: Glyptotek).
Further Sights Near the Glyptoteket
Tivoli Gardens is right across the road from the Glyptotek (but the entrance is on the far sight, a long block away – past the town hall (Rådhus). The National Museum of Denmark is a short block away, which is near the Thorvaldsens Museum and the Christiansborg palace complex (with free viewing platform via elevator) on Slotholmen Island.
See More Art in Copenhagen
The National Gallery of Denmark has the largest collection of Danish and Nordic art in the world and a top sight for any art lovers visiting Denmark. The National Museum of Denmark also has many art works in its collection, as well as a small but exquisite collection of antiquities. The Thorvaldsens Museum is filled with the sculptures of Denmark’s most famous sculptor. Two popular day-trip destinations from Copenhagen are to two famous modern art museums: Arken and the Lousiana.