Copenhagen is one of the few European capitals to not be home to their country’s most visited museum. For Denmark that is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 35 km north of Copenhagen. If you don’t want to leave the city but still see some amazing art there is no reason to worry though, as Copenhagen has several not to miss museums.

National Gallery of Denmark

The Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is Denmark's largest art gallery with approximately 260,000 works of art. The original collection was the private property of the Danish royal family up till the mid-19th century when the collection was given to the people.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions on display. The permanent exhibitions include European Art 1300-1800, with works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Mantegna, Cranach and Titian, and Danish and Noric Art 1750-1900, which charts Scandinavian art from the beginning through the Danish Golden Age to the birth of Modernism.

Hirschsprung Collection

In a Neoclassical building in Østre Anlæg park, tucked behind the SMK, you can visit the Hirschsprung Collection. The museum’s collection consists of 19th and 20th century Danish paintings and sculptures, which ones belonged to tobacco manufacturer Heinrich Hirschsprung and his wife.

Spanning the Danish Golden Age, Skagen painters, and the Symbolists, the museum, which opened in 1911, presents works from artists such as C.W. Eckersberg, Christen Købke, Theodor Philipsen, Vilhelm Hammershøi and Anna Ancher, a member of the Skagen Painters colony and considered one of Denmark’s greatest artists.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

First opened in 1882 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg Beer, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was designed to resemble a Greco-Roman winter garden. The collection includes both paintings and sculptures and is divided into two main departments.

There is the art and archaeological objects from Ancient Egypt, the worlds of Ancient Greece and Rome, Etruscan Culture. Including an extensive collection of Ancient Greek and Roman portrait heads and Palmyrene portraits. And the modern art department which has both Danish and French art of the 19th century, including works by Auguste Rodin and Paul Gaugin.

Not to miss art museums in Copenhagen

Nikolaj Kunsthal

Art can be found anywhere, and this unusual gallery space is proof of that. St Nicolai Church dates back to the 13th century, and hosts Copenhagen’s most innovative and engaging contemporary art. The immaculate architecture interacts with the art of the always-changing exhibitions, showcasing the active role that art plays in Denmark.

Situated not far from the colourful Nyhavn neighbourhood, Nikolaj Kunsthal is a vibrant location with concerts, talks performances, a shop and a café. The venue is popular among locals, making it an ideal place to visit if you’re looking to get real insight into the Danish culture.

Thorvaldsens Museum

Not all artist find the recognition they deserve in life, others are lucky enough to have a museum just for themselves right next door to royalty. That is exactly what happened to Bertel Thorvaldsen who died just four years before the museum that carries his name was opened in 1848.

The Thorvaldsens Museum is located right next to Christiansborg Palace and is entirely dedicated to the work of the Danish neoclassicistic sculptor and the paintings he collected himself. He lived and worked in Rome for most of his life, which greatly inspired his work.

Not to miss art museums in Copenhagen

The David Collection

In an elegant 19th-century townhouse opposite the King’s Gardens from the Rosenborg Castle you can visit The David Collection, which was originally owned by Danish lawyer Christian Ludwig David. The museum is home to three distinct collections: the Collection of Islamic Art, the Collection of European Art, and the Collection of Danish Early Modern Art.

Particularly of note is the museum’s Islamic collection, which consists of decorative art from the seventh to the mid-19th century from an area that extends from Spain in the west to China in the east, from Uzbekistan in the north to Yemen in the south. While the Collection of European Art features a rich selection of art from the 18th and 19th centuries, including furniture designs and porcelain.

Kunsthal Charlottenborg

As one of the largest exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Northern Europe, the Kunsthal Charlottenborg has a strong international focus. Since 1883, the exhibition space has presented a strong programme featuring both new talent and established artists from both Denmark and abroad.

The Kunsthal, which was purpose build, also hosts a lot of activities such as artist talks, performances, concerts and film screenings. Due to its unique connection with the Schools of Visual Arts, part of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the Kunsthal also presents the annual exhibition by the graduate students.

Not to miss art museums in Copenhagen