National Gallery of Denmark
National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen



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Arty Fact

National Gallery of Denmark
National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen
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More about National Gallery of Denmark

shull's picture


The National Gallery of Denmark or, if you speak Danish, the Statens Museum for Kunst, began collecting as early as the 16th century.

In typical rich dude fashion, King Christian IV and King Frederick V expanded the collection until 1849, when Denmark became a democracy and the collection was transferred to the state. Fun fact: King Christian IV reigned for 59 years, and led Denmark into two disastrous, unsuccessful wars against Sweden. But he collected art! Fast forward two-hundred years later to King Frederick V. He was kind of a dud, but he liked art and continued to promote the arts. Now that’s a W in my book. Thanks in large part to these two very different monarchs, Denmark has amassed a collection of art worthy of any tourist's valuable sightseeing time.

History aside, The National Gallery of Denmark is a pretty nifty place. Home to the largest art collection in Denmark, jewels of the permanent collection include masterpieces by Danish and Nordic artists from the 1750s forward, plus important artworks from Europe, including Albrecht Durer and many artworks from the famous Edvard Munch.

Unfortunately, the National Gallery of Denmark is no longer free. Sad day, but you are able to buy a combination pass that allows you access to a variety of museums and galleries in Copenhagen for one price. Ride your rental bike up to this imposing neoclassical building and feast your eyes on some Danish and Norwegian culture. And don’t forget the cafe. The cafe has some tasty danishes.



  1. “About SMK: The National Gallery of Denmark.” Accessed November, 2018.
  2. Bekker, Henk. “Visit the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen.” Accessed November, 2018.
  3. Enberg, Jen. “Christian IV Scandinavian King.” Last modified April, 2018.
  4. Explore The National Gallery of Denmark. Copenhagen: Visit Denmark, 2016.
  5. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Frederick V King of Denmark and Norway.” Last modified March, 2018.
sjohnson's picture


SMK is no longer just Super Mario Kart—it's also the Statens Museum for Kunst, a major foray into the art world by the State of Denmark.

In 1825, the collection began in three fiduciary groups from the Kongens kunstkammer, the art collection of the Konge—not Donkey Kong, but the Danish king. Three special museums formed from the remnants of the Kongens kunstkammer: a museum of ethnography, the Old Nordic collection, and the Antique display. Between 1537 and 1814, Denmark and Norway were united as "Denmark–Norway," so there's a lot of Norse culture here too.  All three of these were consolidated by the government to form the SMK.

To keep everyone guessing, you can also call it Nationalmuseet or the National Gallery of Denmark. If you call it the National Gallery of Denmark, rather than the Statens Museum for Kunst, it might say something about your personality. It could mean that the word "Kunst" is unfamiliar and worries you, because those three consonants in a row sound pretty harsh. "Statens Museum for Kunst" conveys more information, as "The State Museum of Art" coveys that the art was supported, salvaged, or otherwise collected by the State.

The phrase "glassblower's grandson" doesn't immediately bring to mind the phrase "elected public servant," but they both describe Johannes Rump, nephew of the landscape painter Christian Godtfred Rump. For the industrious House of Rump, art was practically the essence of life: son of glass master Carl David Rump of Kurland (1785-1857) and Cathrine Ingeborg born Jørgensen (1797-1874) of Hillerød, Christian Rump believed that the craft of glassmaking was connected to the art of painting. Johannes Rump was an engineer and member of the Copenhagen City Council from 1903 to 1932. Collecting art was a huge thing for him, and he managed to find early works by André Derain, Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse, which he included in a large donation to the Museum in 1928.

The Museum collection also features work by Andrea Mantegna, Filippo Lippi, Titian, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt. It also has a hefty online branch, with more than 30,000 works in a public domain collection, which you can download and use for commercial or non-commercial purposes. All in all, in the country known for LEGO, Hamlet, and conquering England for a while, you can find one of the most impressive collections in Northern Europe. 



  1. "Joakim og Annas gensyn uden for Jerusalems Gyldne Port, 1497." SMK,
  2. "Johannes Christian Magnus Rump." Gravsted, 2015,
  3. "Kongens kunstkammer." Nationalmuseet,
  4. "Melankolien, 1532." SMK,
  5. "Værker til fri download." SMK,

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about National Gallery of Denmark

The National Gallery of Denmark (Danish: Statens Museum for Kunst, also known as "SMK", literally State Museum for Art) is the Danish national gallery, located in the centre of Copenhagen.

The museum collects, registers, maintains, researches and handles Danish and foreign art dating from the 14th century to the present day.


The museum's collections constitute almost 9,000 paintings and sculptures, approximately 240,000 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. Most of the older objects come from the Danish royal collection. Approximately 40,000 pieces from the collections are expected to be made available online by 2020.

European Art 1300–1800

The display of European Art 1300–1800 is a comprehensive collection of art over the 500-year period, featuring works by Mantegna, Cranach, Titian, Rubens and Rembrandt. The art is spread over thirteen rooms, and is the oldest art collection in Denmark, with a particular emphasis on Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, Spanish and German pieces.

Danish and Nordic Art 1750–1900

Danish and Nordic Art 1750-1900 charts Scandinavian art from the beginnings of Danish painting through the ‘Golden Age’ to the birth of Modernism. It displays over 400 works through 24 galleries. It features work by Abildgaard, Eckersberg, Købke, Ring, and Hammershøi.

French Art 1900–1930

SMK gained its modern French art collection in 1928 when it was donated by the late collector Johannes Rump. This collection features some of the museum’s most famous pieces from artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Derain and Braque. The collection was first offered to the SMK by Rump in 1923, but was rejected by the director Karl Madsen, as he did not believe it to be of a high enough quality.

Danish and International Art After 1900

Housed in the museum’s 1993 extension, this 20th and 21st century collection is predominantly focused on the most important examples of modern Danish art. A long corridor of paintings looking onto Østre Anlæg park works as a chronological overview of the work from this period, whilst the smaller galleries focus on specific artists or movements.

The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

The Royal Collection of Graphic Art contains more than 240,000 works: copperprints, drawings, etchings, watercolours, lithographic works and other kinds of art on paper, dating from the 15th century to the present day. The beginnings of this collection were made around the time of Christian II. In his diary from 1521 the German painter Albrecht Dürer says he has given the King "the best pieces of all my prints".

In 1843 the various works, which had so far been the king's private collection, were displayed to the public. It was then moved into the Statens Museum for Kunst when the first building was completed in 1896, along with The Royal Collection of Paintings and The Royal Cast Collection.

Although the papers contain a great number of foreign works, Danish art constitutes the main part of the collection. This collection is open to the public through the Print Room, access to which must be booked in advance of arrival.

The Royal Cast Collection

The Royal Cast Collection is held at the West India Warehouse, Toldbodgade 40, between The Little Mermaid and Nyhavn in Copenhagen. It consists of over 2,000 naked plaster casts of statues and reliefs from collections, museums, temples, churches, and public places throughout the world, from antiquity to the Renaissance. The Royal Cast Collection is only open for special events. The art was first put on display in 1895 with the intention of edifying visitors about the progression of representations of the human form over time in parallel with growing social, political and aesthetic awareness in the Western world.

At the start of the Second World War the art of antiquity became increasingly unfashionable, associated with an archaic artistic tradition. In 1966, as abstract art became more popular, the Royal Cast Collection was removed to a barn outside Copenhagen for storage and only revived in 1984 when it was removed to the West India Warehouse.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about National Gallery of Denmark.

Comments (1)

Nicholas Taylor

I have visited the National Gallery of Denmark with my wife. She is an artist and has great knowledge of understanding the arts.