National Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by michaelhudson on September 2, 2004

With eleven permanent collections spread over more than three hundred rooms and four floors, the National Museum possesses far and away the nation’s finest collection of artefacts from the Ice Age onwards. You’d need to set aside at least three hours in order to even scratch the surface of the place, which is open 10 – 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday (DKK25, free on Wednesdays).

Make sure you collect one of the free floorplans at the entrance, as the layout of the first few rooms is slightly confusing. Most of the ground floor is taken up with the stunning Prehistoric Denmark and the Viking Age collection, which begins on the far side of a central courtyard. By turns grotesque and enthralling, the highlights are the stunning Trundholm Sun Chariot - a flaking gold leaf disc pulled by a straight backed horse on broken wheels – and a number of oak coffins, the grisly, partially clothed remains of their occupants preserved in peat bogs for three millennia. The best known, the 3,400 year old Egtved Girl, was buried with a small bucket of beer on top of her body, still visible along with her blond hair and bronze jewellery. Even the exhaustive Viking artefacts – several rooms of clothing, weaponry and jewellery – pale just a bit in comparison.

Upstairs on the first floor, temporary exhibition space, the Royal Numismatic Collection and some 18th century Rococo interiors from The Prince’s Palace are housed alongside the wonderful Ethnographical Collection and The Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance. Stern, unadorned Viking crucifixes and elaborate gold altars from pre-Reformation Denmark are just some of the stand out exhibits from the Middle Ages; the ethnographical collection takes in indigenous cultures from five continents, including rooms devoted to New Guinea, India, Siberia and Japan.

Aside from small spaces for temporary exhibitions and toys, the second floor is split between Stories of Denmark 1660-2000- a fascinating look at every segment of Danish society, from displays on Royalty to provincial houses, WWII exhibits and women’s clothing from a bankrupt Copenhagen department store - and the Ethnographical Treasures section, with exhibits on China, Korea, Africa and superb Inuittreasures like the protective charm coated clothing belonging to the Amulet Boy and huge whalebone carvings.

The final floor is much smaller, with twenty rooms full of Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities that can be skipped without any real sense of loss. The artefacts are drawn from Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and Italian and include some interesting mummies, vases and Etruscan jewellery, but there’s really nothing here to compare with Denmark’s own treasures.

National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet)
Frederiksholms Kanal 12
Copenhagen, Denmark, 1220
(45) 3313 4411

© LP 2000-2009