If you’ve seen the movie, “Copenhagen”, you’ve seen parts of the Thorvaldsen Museum, probably without recognizing it. While the main characters in that movie frankly all drove me nuts, the cinematography of Copenhagen itself is spot on in terms of picturing the best of the city as it really is. The two main characters head into the Thorvaldsen’s Museum to kill a bit of time before a meeting, and the girl shows nearly an exact replica carved in marble of her face. I have to say it was one of my favorite scenes and when I first saw the movie, I thought for sure it was filmed in the Glyptoteket (a favorite of mine). But when my search for the statue and those azure pigmented vault ceilings turned up nothing, I rewatched the movie credits to see it was actually the Thorvaldsen Museum.
Like in the movie, the museum is perfect for an hour or two. The feeling of the hallways and rooms itself just as striking as the sculptures. The Glyptoteket and SMK both have a bit of this feel too; when you look at the traditional rooms of the various Danish museums, and even palaces, it makes you wonder at what point exactly did Danes start rejecting all color?
The museum is a petite one, and it’s either great for a quick afternoon activity, or best paired with a visit to something nearby like the Christiansborg Palace or National Museum, or even with a walk on the Stroget. I had the two littles in tow, and on a downpour of a day, the size of the museum was perfect for us. Fair warning, it’s not the easiest museum if you have stroller bound kids – you’re not allowed to use the stroller in the museum and unlike the bigger museums, they don’t have their own for indoor use and there are no ramps in and out. However, the staff were more than friendly in helping us get ours up the stairs and into the door, even though it was a freezing monsoon outside. I had brought the Ergo for inside as I often do as this stroller thing comes up often in Denmark so we were covered on that. Inside, upstairs for older children there is a basic activity room where they can do some coloring and reliefs from various carvings, plus obviously viewing the sculptures themselves gave us plenty to talk about.
My parents recently came to visit Copenhagen again and I sent them there for the afternoon, knowing they would enjoy it. They are huge, HUGE history buffs, and my father also seems to have a photographic memory for these things, and he pointed out the most obvious thing that of course I, in my half-asleep, juggling two kids in tow daze, missed completely. And that was that Thorvaldsen, the Danish sculptor to whom the museum is dedicated, was the man behind the Poniatowski sculpture that stands front and center in Warsaw. Most people probably wouldn’t notice that either, but Poniatowski is a big deal in Poland, and his commanding presence, riding in a horse with sword raised is placed in front of the Belvedere Palace, the presidential palace in Warsaw. On a personal note, the scuplture is also placed smack right between the church where we were married in Warsaw, and the hotel that was home to us and our 150 closest for nearly a week as we celebrated they way you only can with a wedding. We must have walked by that sculpture a thousand times, probably so many times, that I failed to see it standing right before my very eyes in Copenhagen.
What’s more, although Polish, Poniatowski was actually born in Vienna, Austria and was part of the Imperial Army at the start of his career. All my worlds crashed in this one sculpture and I missed it. A Polish General, born in Vienna, sculpted by a Dane, and housed in Copenhagen…all of the sudden, I’ve gotten rather sentimental about this place.
Diplo-baby slept through pretty much the whole thing (the mark of any good museum in his book), but given the weather, we were just about the only ones in the museum, and our diplo-tot adored all the cases of things like wax seals, and coins, and signet rings to discover. Even more so since the cases would have these huge magnifying glasses attached to them. I suppose there is a sense of exploration that comes with those and she kept calling it “an adventure”.
In another “miss the obvious” moment, I noticed the sculpture he also did of Copernicus, the Polish astronomer, but forgot that again, I had seen the exact same thing in Warsaw…
The Thorvaldsen Museum is one of those places that’s best enjoyed when you have it nearly to yourself, and is a nice break from some of the more crowded “superstar” exhibits that have been open lately. Not that he is any less of a superstar himself. Spring days will soon have us more outdoors than in, but if you catch yourself on a rainy day with not much to do, I promise you won’t regret a little visit. Say hello to Poniatowski for me.