museums + galleries

exhibition review, museums + galleries, streetscape

væggen - the wall


Last summer the Museum of Copenhagen on Vesterbrogade closed to prepare for its move to Stormgade, close to the City Hall, where it will reopen in 2017.

Until the new museum opens, it is possible to access some of its huge archive of maps and historic images on line or, and much more fun, by visiting Væggen or The Wall that is now set up on Dantes Plads - a couple of blocks south of the City Hall and opposite the Glyptotek.

It is 12 metres long and looks a bit like a railway wagon but smaller and without wheels. One long side hinges and lifts up and out to form a canopy to reveal four large touch screens flanked by smaller display cases. 

One of those cases shows maps and background information about the current location, Dantes Plads, and the other images and artefacts that give a broad introduction to the archaeological work of the museum - primarily their field work to monitor and investigate excavations for either new buildings or the engineering work on the infrastructure of the city such as road works, drainage excavations or the extensive ongoing work on extending the metro.

But it’s the four screens that are the important part. They are interactive and the most obvious way into the material is a scroll of images of people and places that look rather like cut-out paper and cardboard theatres for children from the 19th and early 20th century and below that are date periods and key words for the history of the city. Pointing or touching the screen with a finger brings up a bright narrow spotlight and you can scroll through the images, which actually run across two adjoining screens or bring images to the front to change the selection. 

Choosing an image or a date or a subject opens the equivalent of a work station with two to each screen so potentially eight across the whole wall. Suddenly you have access to a huge number of images and short captions with information and you can swipe through a sequence of images, move down to open similar subjects or link through to related topics.

Many of the photographs and maps are from the vast collection of the museum but it is also possible for citizens and visitors to upload and tag their own images or you can add comments on existing media or even record a video-blog. The aim is to bring the city alive in terms of its social history. Generally these are not stock textbook or guide book views but show how people lived and how they reacted to their city. Visitors to the wall see those links to real people in the past and can see how life then was very very different or surprisingly and disconcertingly much the same and of course contributions added by the public will over time provide a fascinating window on life and attitudes now. 

Instructions and the information panels themselves can be toggled between Danish and English and The Wall is open every day between 8am and 10pm.


Væggen, the online site, gives a good initial impression of what it is like to use the wall and from that site you can access data and upload images … not just material about life in the city right now but also old photographs of Copenhagen or of your family and their life in the city.

museums + galleries, new building, streetscape

DAC on line


The on-line site of the Danish Architecture Centre is an amazing resource for information for modern architecture and landscape and urban planning. There is of course the obvious information about the Architecture Centre itself, on Strandgade on the south side of the harbour in Copenhagen, with opening times and information about exhibitions but that is just the access point to a huge amount of data. 

There are at a basic entrance point three separate sections under the headings DAC&LIFE, DAC&BUILD and DAC&CITIES but of course opening and moving through the various sections is fluid. Under the Life section is the Copenhagen X Gallery that gives access to descriptions, photographs and basic information about new buildings in Denmark including actually quite significant basic data about the architects, engineers, client, square metres and even cost that is actually quite difficult to pull together so easily from other sources.

Buildings can also be tagged and added to a personalised guide book with maps and downloaded as a pdf or sent as an email to others so pretty useful if you are planning to look at a number of buildings with a number of friends or colleagues.

There is information about new buildings in Copenhagen and its immediate area, as well as buildings in Aallborg, Aarhus and Odense.

All the buildings are indexed by year, by architect, by location and so on and can also be found from links on maps.

There are even pre-recorded pod guides for running or walking and for at least four years DAC organised an annual architecture run of 6 km in which up to 1,000 people took part. Have to confess that my first reaction was only in Copenhagen could you find something like that.

Exhibitions at DAC can be tracked back to 2003 so again an amazing resource now and a good starting point for research.

There are also other interesting pages like the book lists … for instance one compiled recently by Kim Herforth Nielsen of the major architectural practice 3XN.  Short comments about each book explain how the books have influenced the work of the practice.

News links cover not just DAC and Denmark but news about major projects and exhibitions and symposiums around the World. There is a strong focus on the development of cities, future possibilities in urban design and, of course, sustainability.


Danish Architecture Centre 
In May 2018 DAC moved from Strandgade to Bryghuspladsen 10, 1473 Copenhagen

historic buildings, museums + galleries

Designmuseum Danmark - the building

Frederik’s Hospital was built in the 1750s during the reign of Frederik V from designs by the court architect Nicolai Eigtved and, after his death in 1753, completed by Lauritz de Thurah. There were four main ranges set around a large enclosed courtyard, generally of a single storey but with two-storey pavilions at the centre of the fronts to Bredgade (at first called Norges Gade) and Amaliegade on the axis of Amalienborg. Those central pavilions on the street fronts had high, hipped roofs and pediments with ornate carved reliefs over the central doorways. Both fronts were set back from the street with forecourts, iron railings and gateways onto the street with ornate stone piers. On either side of the forecourts on both street fronts were tall service blocks of two full stories above basements and with high roofs with dormers. There were also yards with service buildings down each side that were screened off and divided up by high walls and gateways creating an extensive complex.


Detail of a map of 1761 from the collection of Københavns Stadsarkiv

The design museum was established in 1890 by the Industriforeningen i København and the Ny Carlsberg Museumslegat and opened in 1894 in a new building by Vilhelm Klein on what is now H C Andersens Boulevard. From the start, what is implied is that there should be a connection between industry and business and an aim to collect examples of the applied or decorative arts as a study collection for teaching to improve the quality of design and production.

Frederik's Hospital closed in 1910, with no clear new use and there was a rumour it might be purchased by speculators. In 1919 Councillor of State Emil Glückstadt bought the buildings and gave them as a gift to establish a new home for the museum.

The Museum director was Emil Hannover (1864-1923) and a competition was held for “the Future Home of the Museum of decorative Arts.”

There was not an outright winner but the committee preferred the scheme proposed by Ivar Bentsen, Thorkild Henningsen and Kaare Klint. Henningsen withdrew from the project (because of an ongoing personal dispute with Hannover) and the contract was signed by Bentsen although in the end most of the design work was completed by Klint as the project architect … not just deciding on the major arrangement of the internal spaces but designing the main features such as the four new staircases, based on appropriate 18th-century models, determining the form of the display cases and designing, library fittings, doorcases and doors and even handles and hinges..

However, the museum also commissioned work from other major designers of the period; G N Brandt produced the scheme for the courtyard - Grønnegården - with paved alleys and the planting with lime trees; lamps for the new museum were by Poul Henningsen based on a lighting system developed for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1925 and Mogens Koch and Ole Wanscher designed the display cases following a system of basic cube units devised by Klint. The cases were made by the master cabinet makers N C Jensen-Kjær and Rudolf Rasmussen, Otto Meyer and Jacob Petersen.


View of one of the galleries


Drawings by Kaare Klint for door fittings

With the death of Hannover in 1923, Klint took over the responsibility for organising the display of the collection. He was clear that he did not want the museum collection shown in any form of room setting and his drawings for the main galleries show major items lined up formally along the spine walls opposite the widows to the courtyard. He saw the furniture as important works of art to have comparable validity to paintings and sculpture and to be displayed in a similar reverential way. He also designed shelving and storage systems for housing smaller items, drawings, photographs and other teaching collections such as the samples of different timbers.. 

Klint established a studio in the attic of the museum, taught here using the collection and from 1932 had accommodation here where he lived until his death in 1954.


posted first on the Danish Design Review site in February 2015

historic buildings, new building, museums + galleries

Statens Museum for Kunst - the building

The original art gallery was designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup and Georg Møller. Building work started in 1889 and was completed in 1896.

Following a competition, a new addition to the gallery, on the side towards the park, Østre Anlaeg, was designed by C F Møllers Tegnestue and was completed in 1998. The restaurant is by the designer Peter Lassen with the artist Bjørn Nørgaard.

A major remodelling of the forecourt has just been completed with the work designed by Karres and Brands, a Dutch partnership from Hilversum, with the Danish architects Polyform.

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