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Copenhagen is a city that is both historic and modern, sometimes even within the same building. The Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center is an art museum that showcases prominent Danish & international contemporary artists, all inside an old church.
Nikolaj Art Museum Visitor Information
Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center (official website) is in central Copenhagen, near the Museum of Denmark and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. It’s right near hop-on, hop-off bus routes and other public transportation lines. There is an admission fee, except on Wednesdays. Children can always visit for free. Entry to the Nikolaj Museum is included with the Copenhagen Card. The ticket also provides access to the Museum of Copenhagen and Thorvaldsens Museum within a 48-hour period.
Highlights of Nikolaj Copenhagen
Nikolaj Copenhagen shows how a building can preserve its past while being repurposed for something new and interesting.
In a past life, Nikolaj was known as St. Nicholas Church. The original church was built in the 13th century. Most of the building burned down in the Copenhagen Fire of 1795. However, the tower still remained, standing over this portion of the city center to this day. The rest of the church building was not rebuilt until 1912 when architect Hans Christian Amberg began the modern reconstruction.
Despite being reconstructed in the style of a church, Nikolaj has not functioned as one in a long time. A sign outside literally says “I’m not a church.” In 1957, the Nikolaj Museum hosted its first art exhibitions in the ever-changing space.
Today, the building continues to host contemporary art exhibitions on a rotating basis, with no permanent collection. As a result, what visitors might encounter at any particular time could be hit or miss as areas of the spacious building undergo the installation process. Also, with modern art, it’s not 100% certain if something is in the middle of being installed or if it’s supposed to look that way.
Since it’s part of a 3-venue ticket (and also free on Wednesdays), going during a time with fewer art pieces to see is less of a disappointment than it would be if one had paid for a ticket just for Nikolaj.
The exhibitions at Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center focus on Danish & international artists, as well as emerging young artists. Artists who have exhibited at the Nikolaj Copenhagen include Jananne Al-Ani, Leonard Cohen, David Lynch, Andreas Emenius, Lotte Nielsen, Helmut Newton, and Kutluğ Ataman.
The Platform program showcases young up-and-coming artists through collaborations with the museum’s curators.
The Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center may be fairly small, but if you’re interested in contemporary art & history, it’s worth dropping in to see what’s going on if you’re in Copenhagen.