Bag facaden Glyptoteket

Behind the Façade – Discover the architecture and story of the Glyptotek

Photo: Anders Sune Berg

On May 17th, the Glyptotek opened their special exhibition: Behind the Façade – Discover the Architecture of the Glyptotek. For the first time, the museum will tell the whole story of what lurks behind the façades of their iconic building.

With their brand-new exhibition, Glyptoteket unfolds the story of the creation of the Glyptotek and the man behind it – the Carlsberg brewer Carl Jacobsen. The exhibition tells the story of how the museum opening helped turn Copenhagen into a modern metropolis along the lines of Paris, London, and Vienna. And has a starting point in Carl Jacobsen’s original struggle with the location of the museum, designated by the municipality of Copenhagen, in what was then the outskirts of the city.

The pride of the building

Being a completely unique building in Copenhagen, the exhibition centres around the architecture of the building and the thoughts of Carl Jacobsen, who intended to build a temple of beauty in which art could speak to everyone in an architecturally magnificent setting. Carl named his museum Glyptotek, which means a collection of sculptures, after the Greek words glyptos (carving or sculpting) and theke (a place where something is collected or displayed).

Glyptoteket bag facaden

Photo:Anders Sune Berg

Even though the architecture of the building at first glance seems somewhat old-fashioned, the construction behind it was, at that time, innovative and revolutionary.

“The Glyptotek is not only incredibly beautiful. It is also an architecturally interesting building that testifies to the structural breakthroughs of the time, superb craftsmanship and precious materials. In recent years, we have been researching the architecture of the museum and discovered a myriad of interesting stories, which we would like to share with our visitors to add a totally new dimension to their experience of the Glyptotek,” says Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen, Director of the Glyptotek.

Furthermore, the exhibition will go one sod deeper and present what is concealed behind the decorated façades in a sensuous way by letting visitors feel the materials. In addition, it will describe how the architects worked on the project and what it was like to work with Carl Jacobsen, who was a passionate opinion leader on art.

A famous architectural legacy / A collaboration between three of Denmark’s most famous architects

The existing Glyptotek today is made up of three different buildings. Architect Vilhelm Dahlerup, famous for The Royal Theater in Copenhagen and The National Gallery of Denmark, designed the first and original part of the museum. Carl Jacobsen also worked with Vilhelm Dahlerup on numerous projects in The Carlsberg City District. However, the building needed to be larger to accommodate the fast-growing art collection of Carl Jacobsen. This called for an expansion of the museum resulting in the inauguration in 1906 of the Winter Garden, also by Vilhelm Dahlerup, and an extension designed by the architect Hack Kampmann, which now houses the museum’s antiquity collection. In 1996 the museum inaugurated yet another extension, this time designed by the renowned Henning Larsen architecture firm.

Glyptoteket bag facaden

Photo:Anders Sune Berg

The exhibition will also tell the prelude to a special migration story in Copenhagen. After discovering the art of mosaic in Paris in 1878, Carl Jacobsen invited Italian mosaic experts to Denmark to construct the unique and detailed floors of the museum in the Hack Kampann wing that accompanies the works of the rooms. After the Italian mosaic experts had made a living from mosaic making, they settled in Denmark, and, to this day, still have descendants here.

The exhibition will run from May 17th until November 19th, 2023, and is a part of the City of Copenhagen’s official program celebrating Copenhagen being, UNESCO’s World Capital of Architecture 2023.

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Giuseppe Liverino

Senior Manager - Press & PR