Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Turns 125

Published 31 March 2022

On Sunday 1 May the Glyptotek turns 125. On this very special day we will be paying tribute to the museum, which perpetuates Carl Jacobsen’s vision of creating a celebratory setting for art and a temple of beauty for everyone. We will honour the spirit of the founder of Carlsberg with celebratory speeches and music – exactly as on the opening day on 1 May 1897.

Carl Jacobsen was not just a brewer. He was also a passionate art collector, patron and developer with strong ideas about people’s education and cultural development.
“… Living art belongs to living people! But it should not be the preserve of the wealthy alone. It should also give pleasure to the ordinary man and woman in the street, so that they too can sense the power of beauty,” said Carl Jacobsen in his opening speech, when, nine years after the opening of the Glyptotek, he finally inaugurated the Winter Garden and the large extension to house the collections of ancient art.

“The Glyptotek is the legacy of a forward-looking, modern patron with great visions for art and the important role it plays in general education and cultural life. It was Carl Jacobsen’s wish to release our senses and artistic vision by making his sumptuous collections available to the public. He believed that art should be accessible to everyone. The brewer was ahead of his time in his belief that the senses were the path to knowledge and in his creation of a beautiful, recreational setting for art,” says Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen, Director of the Glyptotek.

How it all began
Carl Jacobsen first bought paintings. Then he bought sculptures. Thereafter he built a small museum with a winter garden, so “the statues could be shown to their full advantage,” as Jacobsen put it in his speech at the opening of the Glyptotek. It was the start of the collection that began life on Valby Bakke, but that needed a new – and bigger – setting closer to the city.
Carl and his wife Ottilia Jacobsen donated their private art collection to the public with a deed of gift to the City of Copenhagen including art and a museum building. In return, the city provided the plot of land on which the Glyptotek stands to this day. Carl Jacobsen commissioned Vilhelm Dahlerup, one of the greatest architects of the time, to design the new building, and in 1897 the museum opened.

“I did not wish to build just any old museum. I wanted to construct a temple of beauty, in which art could speak to everyone,” said Jacobsen of his vision for the museum in his opening speech in 1897. His ambitions were lofty and on an international scale. Not only did the museum open with the brewer’s private collection and the impressive museum building. Adjacent to the museum, Carl Jacobsen also built a temporary building to house one of Copenhagen’s very first international exhibitions, featuring art from all over the world as a reflection of his international vision.

A colourful celebration
At our celebration on 1 May, visitors will get a feeling of the atmosphere that reigned on the opening day 125 years ago, with a programme featuring choral music and commemorative speeches. In the spirit of Carl Jacobsen, lunch will be served at a refectory tables in the museum’s Central Hall, and there will be guided tours looking at art, architecture and the brewer himself, art breaks and music. Specially for the occasion, inspired by the museum’s popular oasis, the Carlsberg Laboratory are brewing a surprise for visitors.

“We have devised an anniversary programme that celebrates both the history of the museum and its unique historicist architecture. The brewer passionately believed that art should not be the preserve of the upper echelons of society, but should exist for the pleasure of ordinary men and women. That is why we want to celebrate the day in a festive way,” says Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen.

For the jubilee celebration, on the basis of archaeological colour studies, the wall colours of Vilhelm Dahlerup’s first building have been restored, so they will look exactly as they did at the inauguration in 1897. In addition, the capitals of the columns will be gleaming with freshly applied gold leaf. In the rooms, visitors will see new displays of the museum’s collections of French painting and French and Danish sculpture from the 19th century, and enjoy a reunion with certain masterpieces that have not been exhibited for a number of years.

Programme 1 May 2022
11.00 am: A performance of Carl Jacobsen’s original opening speech from 1897 in the Winter Garden.
11.15 am: As at the inauguration of the Glyptotek, the Winter Garden will resound with choral music in a performance by Musica Ficta.
11.30 am: The museum’s director, Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen will welcome guests.
12.00 noon: Lunch at a refectory table in the Central Hall. (Tickets must be purchased in advance)
2.00-4.30 pm: Free anniversary beer. The Carlsberg Laboratory will present the Glyptotek’s recently-brewed Oasis Beer.
3.00 pm: In the Winter Garden, the composer/singer Di Garbi will perform a spring piece, specially composed for the Glyptotek.

There will be a guided tour every half hour.
10.30-11.00 am: The Brewer’s Building. Discover the façade of the Glyptotek.
11.30 am-12.00 noon: Look Up! Discover the architecture of the Glyptotek.
12.30-1.00 pm: The Brewer’s Building. Discover the façade of the Glyptotek.
1.30-2.00 pm: Carl’s Great Love.

Read more about the celebration here.

Season Ticket

Buy your season ticket here and get free admission to an oasis in the middle of Copenhagen.


Enjoy a delicious lunch at Picnic overlooking the Glyptotek's beautiful Winter Garden.


See the exciting activities and events, the Glyptotek has to offer. Please note, the events in Danish will not be presented here. Go to the Danish version of the homepage to see all events.