Compact enough to explore on foot, Copenhagen also enjoys all of the trappings of a major city – including a large number of museums where exhibitions are hosted throughout the year.
Sitting on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager, the Danish capital attracts large numbers of tourists every year who come to enjoy its myriad of world-class museums, restaurants and other attractions. If you’re visiting Copenhagen this winter and would like to check out an exhibition or two during your stay, we’ve looked into all of the ones running through the coming months and picked out 12 of the best.
Matisse: The Red Studio
Henri Matisse is often cited as one of the greats of 20th-century art. In 1911, he painted The Red Studio, widely considered a foundational work in the history of modern art. The picture depicts the artist’s studio in Paris filled with his own paintings, sculptures, furniture and decorative objects. In a radical move, the artist saturated the painting’s surface with a monochrome red covering the walls, floors and furniture. Three of the paintings shown in the picture belong to the Statens Museum for Kunst – and with this exhibition all the works depicted are being reunited for the first time in over 100 years.
Statens Museum for Kunst / Through 26 February 2023
The Storm P. Collection
The late Danish cartoonist, writer, and painter Robert Storm Petersen – known almost exclusively by his pen name, Storm P – created works characterised by a wildly imaginative and diverse style. In the exhibition, visitors can experience a string of Storm P.’s paintings and drawings and many of his famous figures such as Peter and Ping, The 3 little Men and the Flies. The museum has arranged the exhibited paintings around different themes, e.g., Caricature, Death, Women, Circus and Back to Nature. A number of whimsical drawings can be found on the ground floor, where visitors can also – on a larger digital table – flip through the museum’s 33,000 original Storm P. drawings.
Frederiksbergmuseerne / Permanent
Claus Rohland: It is the traveller only who is foreign
Paraphrasing the famous author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, who said that “there are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign”, the title of this exhibition points to the fact that the only truly exotic elements in distant lands are the ones visiting them. Now, decades of patination have transformed photographs from Claus Rohland’s road trips in the Middle East, making them genuinely unique and – in their very own way – emphatically exotic. Showing snapshots of everyday life, the images on display are based on photographs taken on trips undertaken by Rohland in 1975 and 1977; the former to Egypt, the latter to Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
The David Collection / Through 9 April 2023
KA-CHING! – Show Me the Money
The National Museum of Denmark has a unique collection of coins charting trade, the birth of nations, and breakthroughs in Danish and world history. This exhibition presents the cultural history of money right up to the economic challenges we face today. Through a range of displays, visitors can learn how the money complex works, how financial bubbles are created, and how citizens, states and banks are connected by debt. Exhibit highlights include some of the oldest coins in the world, a reconstruction of a bank from the 1920s, and a bar of real gold weighing 12kg.
National Museum of Denmark / Through winter 2022-23
The Local – Copenhagen’s Last Pubs
At the end of the 1980s, there were over 1,000 pubs in Copenhagen, but today just over 200 are left. This exhibition chronicles the story of two authors and a photographer who have visited them all, an endeavour which was turned into a bestselling book Stamsteder – Københavns sidste værtshuse (The Local – Copenhagen’s Last Pubs). In the exhibition, through edited excerpts and photographs from the book, visitors, can see some of the most striking Copenhagen pubs and hear about their secrets and oddities – and, who knows, maybe even be inspired to visit one or two themselves.
Museum of Copenhagen / 1 December 2022 – 28 February 2023
The Art of Conserving a Masterpiece
The objects in the abundant collections of the Glyptotek museum cover 6,000 years of art and culture. It goes without saying that the passage of time impacts these objects and leaves its mark. But what do museums do to prevent this? How do you conserve an object to make it look the same as on the day it was created? And what considerations, challenges – maybe even dangers – does the conservation of a masterpiece entail? This exhibition presents two-dozen of the museum’s 19th and 20th-century French drawings – all of which have ‘paid a visit’ to the conservation workshop and, after much circumspection and care, are ready once again to greet visitors.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek / Through 31 December 2022
Ejnar Nielsen: Signs of Life
Of all Danish artists active around the year 1900, Ejnar Nielsen is the one who most directly responded to existential, yet at the time taboo subjects such as illness, poverty, loneliness, and death. Presented in this exhibition are works dating from his years in the central Jutland village of Gjern, for which he left Copenhagen as a young artist in 1894, and which show a particular focus on these themes. During this period, he painted graveyards, tuberculosis-stricken children, funeral scenes set in beautiful landscapes, coffins and scenes of hell. His paintings often feature types of individuals who rarely find their way into art: blind people, the poor, the sick and people whose lives are consigned to the fringes of society.
Hirschsprung Collection / Through 11 December 2022
Sean Scully: Material World
The entire expanse of the Thorvaldsens Museum is being utilised for this ground-breaking exhibition, in which world-renowned artist Sean Scully showcases large-scale sculptures that interact with the architecture, colours and surroundings of the museum. The artist has chosen the materials for the works with reference to the life and art of the legendary late sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, as well as the history of Denmark. Among the works on display are a 13ft sculpture in Italian black marble from Carrara and a 25ft piece for the square in front of the museum, made from local Danish wood that dates back to the 15th century.
Thorvaldsens Museum / Through 5 March 2023
Thorbjørn Lausten: DRIFT
Norwegian artist Thorbjørn Lausten works with data visualisation at the crossroads between art, science and technology. This exhibition centres around a brand new work by the artist consisting of a number of large video projections that visualise marine and atmospheric data from the waters between Iceland, Greenland and parts of the Baltic Sea – conditions that are thought to have had, and continue to have, a significant impact on the climate. With this project, Lausten illustrates how visualisations of data are crucial to our perception of our worldview and understanding of reality.
Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center / Through 22 January 2023
The Future is Present
Designers around the world are working on solving some of our global challenges. Thinking radically and creatively, allowing themselves to be guided by both reason and emotion, they search extensively for inspiration, ask questions, and envision themselves in the communities, whose lives they want to improve. This exhibition encompasses three main themes – Human, Society and Planet+ – each presenting different questions, future scenarios, design examples and art installations. A final theme ”Shaping the Future” shows examples from the Designmuseum’s own collection of utopian dreams and past visionary designs that have influenced and shaped our world.
Designmuseum Denmark / Through 1 June 2023
Visitors are invited to come face to face with our closest extinct relatives at this immersive exhibition. Based on new research, the exhibition provides a fresh and nuanced look at the Neanderthals, their lives and their first meeting with modern humans. In doing so, it challenges the stereotype of the Neanderthals as our primitive, prehistoric cousins. Visitors can see what life was like back then, and the daily tasks Neanderthals were required to perform, such as mammoth hunting. Among the items on display are one of the world’s best-preserved wooden spears used for hunting 120,000 years ago and found in the chest cavity of a forest elephant.
Zoologisk Museum / Through 19 February 2023
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Organised by the Natural History Museum in London, the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world’s largest of its kind, attracting the most talented amateurs and professionals from around the globe. This year’s edition is no different, and The Natural History Museum of Denmark is inviting visitors to come and see the selection of the 100 best wildlife images for themselves. Featuring magnificent habitats and fascinating animal behaviour, the many beautiful photos on display demonstrate the diversity of life on Earth, serving to inspire us to reflect on man’s place in nature and our responsibility to protect it.
Natural History Museum of Denmark / Through 27 August 2023