It no doubt horrifies hardened Carlsberg drinkers worldwide to learn that the brewer, best known for its sponsorship of the soccer teams Liverpool and FC Copenhagen, is partially owned by a foundation one of whose primary goals is the collection and display of fine art. The Ny Carlsberg Foundation, the brainchild of Carl Jacobsen, the son of J.C. Jacobsen (who founded Carlsberg) and a successful brewer in his own right, opened the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteketacross from the less refined delights of the Tivoli Gardens in 1897 and it has been central to Denmark’s cultural life ever since.
What sets the Glyptoteket (whose name literally means "sculpture collection" but actually includes paintings and antiquities as well) apart from many other such museums is the level of aesthetic consideration given to its contents. In addition to its impressive architecture (the Winter Garden by the entrance is a lovely place to anticipate or reflect upon the works beyond it), the individual pieces seem to have all been chosen with a strong emphasis on their physical beauty. The Roman, Greek, and Etruscan sculptures reflect an incredible level of verisimilitude for such ancient works, and many are remarkably well preserved. They find a fitting echo in the largest collection of the sculpture of Auguste Rodin outside of France, including the obligatory "Thinker" in the garden outside.
Although attractive, the collection of paintings is somewhat less impressive, as despite the great names represented, the works on display tend to be relatively minor. This does not serve in any way to decrease their enjoyability, particularly since the Danish "Golden Age" paintings are accompanied by sculptures from the same period to a much greater degree than elsewhere in the country. Most of the museum’s other canvases reflect French art from the Neo-Classical to Post-Impressionist periods with an emphasis on the aesthetically pleasing–-thus accounting for the relatively large number of works by Paul Gauguin and the representation of the Dutchman Vincent van Gogh by the luxuriant "Pink Roses." Depending on whether or not you choose to enjoy the nearby Tivoli Gardens, the verdant paintings of Claude Monet and the Barbizons (a school of French painting that emphasized outdoor painting) present either a fitting accompaniment or the requisite horticultural highlight of your time in Copenhagen.
The collection is currently undergoing a renovation to accommodate its wild popularity (it’s visited by twice as many people annually as it was designed for) but the highlights of the collection are currently on display. Consequently, this review covers the so-called "Compact Glyptoteket" that I did see, which is being displayed until the full collection, normally displayed across a pair of buildings, is reopened. Although only a fraction of the museum’s holdings, this collection is so outstanding that I heartily recommend visiting it to any visitor to Copenhagen, particularly on a Wednesday or Sunday, when admission is free.