The Glyptotek: Tropical Temple for Art



Located on H.C. Andersen’s Boulevard, overlooking Tivoli and featuring a grand entrance, is a museum that, with its intricate copper roof and magnificent red brick facade, transports guests back in time. It is called Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, but most simply refer to it as The Glyptotek – in Danish, Glyptoteket.

The Glyptotek. The word originates from the Greek “glyphein,” meaning carving or sculpture, and from the word “theke,” a place where something is collected or displayed. As the name suggests, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by brewer Carl Jacobsen, who used the profits from his brewery, Ny Carlsberg, to amass an extensive collection of art and cultural artifacts. Carl Jacobsen gifted his collection to the public in 1888 and, in addition, founded The Glyptotek, which opened to the public in 1897.

The Star Architect of the Time

The museum consists of three interconnected buildings, with the main structures designed by three different architects. The first building and the Winter Garden with the large dome were crafted by one of the era’s greatest architects, Vilhelm Dahlerup (1836-1907). He also designed The Royal Theatre, the National Gallery of Denmark, and many other Copenhagen landmarks. The facade is a prime example of the historicism style, characterized by grand buildings with influences from historical styles.

Built for Natural Light

Both inside and outside, the building is adorned with stucco and marble, and around every corner, you are almost certain to encounter a sculpture of a human or an animal – they follow you throughout your entire visit. The museum was constructed with a focus on Carl Jacobsen’s collection, and it was his wish to create a “Temple of Beauty, where art could speak to all.” Therefore, architecture played a significant role. This is particularly evident when observing the natural light. The museum was built as a daylight museum and was only open during daylight hours. The winter opening hours were, therefore, very short. Although artificial lighting has been added subsequently, daylight still plays a significant role in both the experience of the artworks and the architecture.

If you want to experience the Mediterranean atmosphere, you can enter the Winter Garden, sit among the palms, and watch the light from the dome’s honey-colored glass impart a golden glow to the marble sculptures.

Near The Glyptotek

On the backside of the building lies The Glyptotek Garden. Here you can visit the sculpture “The Thinker” and sit on a bench to enjoy the well-manicured garden. If you have a ticket to the museum, you can also visit the rooftop terrace. From here, you have a view of Copenhagen classics such as Tivoli and Copenhagen Police Headquarters – but also of modern architecture like the Ved Glyptoteket Nursery School.