Copenhagen’s unique quality of living is one that integrates art and culture in daily life.
The city has a long history of art, design and architecture, and the current scene is an immensely vibrant one with activities and events taking place throughout the city.
Join me on a two-day journey through the city, visiting some of the best galleries and exhibition venues it has to offer.
Frie to do what you want
Explore one of Copenhagen’s hidden gems, Den Frie Udstillingsbygning (denfrie.dk), next to Østerport Station. The small wooden building was designed by one of Denmark’s great artists, JF Willumsen. Den Frie presents one of the finest examples of the Danish ‘skønvirke’ – a mix of art nouveau, jugendstil (German art nouveau), and the arts and crafts movement, while also showcasing the work of younger emerging artists.
Designs on the best
The beautiful Designmuseum Denmark (designmuseum.dk) is just a short walk from Den Frie and always worth a visit. Built as a hospital in the 1750s by two of the period’s most talented architects, Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritiz de Thurah, and later renovated by Kaare Klint, the building and its collections epitomise Danish design and architectural history. The excellent Klint Café perfectly modernises the Danish lunch tradition.
Homage at Etage
Moving on, you will find some of the most influential and interesting galleries close to the museum. Stop by Andersen’s beautiful two-space gallery in either Amaliegade or Bredgade. One of Copenhagen’s most intriguing design galleries, Etage Projects (etageprojects.com), is located at Borgergade 15. The owner Maria Foerlev is a frontrunner in exploring the constantly changing overlaps and intersections between contemporary art and design.
Grand dame of Gothersgade
Round off the first day’s gallery tour with a visit to Gallery Susanne Ottesen (susanneottesen.dk), the grand old dame of the Copenhagen art scene. Her gallery is easy to find as it’s located on the corner of Gothersgade and Møntergade.
Start off big
Start the day at Kunsthal Charlottenborg (kunsthalcharlottenborg.dk), an institution housing the Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the exhibition space Kunsthal Charlottenborg, as well as the CHART headquarters (chartartfair.com). Check out the exhibition featuring the kings of Danish architecture, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which focuses on the firm’s collaborations with contemporary artists.
New kid on the block
Stroll down Nyhavn and reach the harbour canal. Copenhagen doesn’t have gondolas but instead you can board a harbour bus and sail towards Danish Architecture Centre (dac.dk), housed in BLOX, a building designed by international star architect Rem Koolhaas. The building has been underway for nearly 10 years and has stirred a lot of controversy. It is a must-see: it integrates itself into the urban cityscape in a radical and rough way, simultaneously respecting and challenging the surrounding architecture and infrastructure. Enjoy the exhibitions and gaze at the skyline from one of the many terraces.
Packing them in
Kødbyen, the former meat packing district, is home to three galleries: V1 Gallery (v1gallery.com), Gether Contemporary (getherconemporary.com) and Bo Bjerggaard (bjerggard.com). You might be able to catch an opening night – but don’t tell them we suggested you gate-crash!
Nanna Hjortenberg is director of CHART, a three-day event that gathers leading Nordic art and design galleries into a public program of exhibitions, talks, music and performances.
For more inspiration from the museums, visit Copenhagen Museums & Attractions at cphmuseums.com