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Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen spent most of his life in Rome, however, this did not prevent him from becoming a popular artist in his native Copenhagen. In 1848, the Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen opened, showcasing his Neoclassical sculptures along with his personal art collection.
Thorvaldsens Museum Visitor Information
Thorvaldsens Museum (official website) is located in central Copenhagen, not far from the Museum of Denmark and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. It’s right near hop-on, hop-off bus routes as well as other public transportation lines. There is an admission fee, except on Wednesdays. Children can always visit for free. Entry to Thorvaldsens Museum is included with the Copenhagen Card. The ticket also provides access to the Museum of Copenhagen and the Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center within a 48-hour period.
Highlights of Thorvaldsens Museum
Thorvaldsens Museum is the oldest museum in Denmark. It opened in 1848, but plans had started in the prior decade. Bertel Thorvaldsen moved back to Denmark from Italy with a hero’s welcome in 1838. Thorvaldsen bequeathed much of his fortune & works to a public museum to be constructed on Slotsholmen Island near Christiansborg Palace. The facade of the museum features a mural by Jørgen Sonne that depicts Thorvaldsen’s triumphant return.
Architect Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll designed a beautiful building inspired by Greek architecture, along with Egyptian motifs. The tile-floored galleries are laid out in a way that showcases the sculptures well, especially along the long halls.
Along with the painted ceilings, these mosaic floors also add color that makes the white statues stand out.
With over 900 pieces in the collection, there is a lot to see. Thorvaldsens Museum is absolutely packed with Neoclassical sculptures, which take up the main floor & the floors above. Descriptions are left to a digital guide app, allowing his art to remain the focus.
There are more than just sculptures in Thorvaldsens Museum. The top floor of the colorful museum also includes his collection of paintings and Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities.
The basement is all about Berthel Thorvaldsen’s work and life. There is also a children’s workshop & his plaster cast collection.
While the primary focus of Thorvaldsen’s Museum is on the Danish sculptor, there are also special exhibitions. In the recent exhibit “Sean Scully: Material World,” Irish artist Sean Scully created works specifically for Thorvaldsen’s Museum. His pieces were scattered throughout the entire space, connecting the past with modern sculpture that incorporated the colors & materials found in the museum.
Not only is the building dedicated to the life and work of Bertel Thorvaldsen, but it is also his final resting place. He was buried in the center courtyard following his death in 1844.
Thorvaldsen’s Museum is a fine example of a single-artist museum. The sculptures created by Bertel Thorvaldsen are beautiful, as is the building itself.