Danh Vo at the SMK

Whenever I go to a modern art exhibition I am aware of how little I understand it all yet I still enjoy exploring the works. As we have a year pass for the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) I went along to see the exhibition by Danh Vo called Take My Breath Away, which is run in collaboration with the Guggenheim in New York. I found the exhibition a mixed experience for me – some of it I found baffling (even with the explanation in the guide) and some I liked.This chandelier was probably the stand out piece for me (and as the SMK used it in the promotional materials it is obviously something that appeals to the most people). It was a chandelier which was in a photograph documenting the signing of the Paris Peace Accord which ended the Vietnam War. You can read more about this piece here.

I particularly liked the paper lampshade display in the Sculpture Street in the centre of the museum. You can read more about the entire exhibition here and it runs until the 2 December. I do love the SMK’s building and regardless of the current exhibition, it is a relaxing and peaceful place to have a wander around. It is interesting to head up to the suspended walkways and see the museum from a different angle. The Kafeteria (another part of the museum that Dahn Vo had worked on) offers superb food and drink (you can see one of our visits here).

Kafeteria at SMK

Over the Easter break, my son and I went to the SMK for the children’s workshop and to take in a little art. I had also heard that Frederik Bille Brahe, the restaurateur behind Atelier September had recently opened a new cafe in the museum called Kafeteria. Looking at the pictures on Instagram I wasn’t immediately sure where in the museum it was but it wasn’t in the location of the previous cafe. We arrived and found that the shop and ticket office had moved sides and Kafeteria was in its old spot. A genius plan as it means you can come to the cafe without paying the entrance fee for the museum. As the area is billed as Museum Park, with tons of other museums, many without cafes, it is the perfect place to be.

It goes without saying that the appearance of the place is spot on; very Scandi but also very different to Atelier September. The menu was a little confusing at first as they offer weekly specials so the wall menu is pretty generic – for example it simply lists vegetables, meat, salad and soup etc. You need to check the printed menus for the details. The prices were reasonable but not super cheap but if you have an SMK year pass you get 10% off. However once we saw the food and tasted it, the prices make more sense. I had the cauliflower soup and bread, which was delicious, as my son chose the organic, slow cooked beef and root vegetable ragout (pictured below) and I suspected he wouldn’t managed the whole plate. Sadly I was left with very slim pickings as he loved it. I can concur that it was superb! We later found out, when I spoke to the chef to rave about the food, that we could have got a half portion for children, which is good to know if your child has a less robust appetite. The cakes looked lovely too and the coffee smelled great. We had planned to return for coffee and cake later in the afternoon but the place was packed with nowhere to sit so we decided to leave that for another day. I’m definitely coming back!

ENIGMA – the new Post and Tele Museum

If like us you have been missing the Post and Tele Museum since it closed over a year ago, you’ll de delighted to hear that the first phase of its replacement, ENIGMA opened this month. Housed in the old post building in Østerbro close to Trianglen, the first phase is the bottom floor of the building and houses the ENIGMA stage and square.img_7314

A quick ‘did you know?’ ENIGMA houses the oldest Enigma machine from the Second World War (seen below).img_7316There is an exciting programme of events for both adults and children (in Danish), board games, programmable robots and other family activities, a cafe and also a working post office and citizens’ service (borgerservice) area. You can read much more about it in my article on The Local here and also on the ENIGMA website.

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Children’s birthday parties at Statens Museum for Kunst

We were delighted to be invited to two of my son’s classmates’ birthday party at the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) last weekend. I was aware of the children’s workshop area which we regularly go to but I didn’t know you could have a birthday party there.

img_5985As part of the birthday package up to 30 children and 6 adults take part of a tour of selected works in the museum and then head back to the private art workshop and create a masterpiece inspired by the art they have seen.

The party we went to was themed as Kings and Queens and we were shown two related paintings and two sculptures. The excellent guide really engaged with the children and they (and we) learnt a lot about art and also the historic context. Once in the workshop, there were already easels set up for the children to get painting.

As part of the package you also have used of a private lunch room where you can have party food and continue the celebration.

The guide spoke in English to our group (there is a slight supplement to have this) and was very good at containing the more lively elements. There is a lot of listening for the children but it is very interactive and engaging.

So if you are looking for a birthday party that is a little different and affordable, this is the perfect thing.

For more information check out the SMK’s website here.

On another note the SMK has ben gifted this iconic piece by the Danish artists’ group Superflex, first produced in 2002. Its message is even more relevant today. As part of its installation there are smaller, free posters for you to take away. img_5991

Paying for culture at the SMK and National Museum

Since June 1st 2016 the National Museum of Denmark (including the Frilands Museum) and the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) have started charging an entrance fee. The museums have been free for the last ten years but this year they have both asked the Government for permission to start charging again. This is in part due to budget cuts they face coupled with the wish to still be able to offer the same level of high services to their visitors. Some politicians were against this move to charge as it undermines the rights of people to have free access to culture.

This is what the SMK say on their website about the changes:

The SMK has provided free admission to its permanent displays since 2006. We have been very happy with this arrangement, but the museum is now facing such dire financial straits that free admission is no longer feasible. In the years to come, the SMK’s state funding will be cut by eight per cent – corresponding to some 16 million kroner (2.1 million EUR).  The SMK wishes to maintain the high level of quality visitors expect from the National Gallery of Denmark, and this will not be possible in the long term without finding new sources of revenue. Hence, we reintroduced admission fees as of 1 June 2016.


However the museums have introduced a pricing structure that does offer savings for people especially if you are visiting with children. They are all offering free entry for children but a discounted adult entry if you are visiting with a child, thus making it more affordable for families. The year passes are also priced at a level to make them worthwhile if you plan to come more than three times in a year (it is worth noting the year pass in the SMK runs for twelve months not a calendar year). There are also discounts for under 30 year olds but none for seniors. If you check out their website (SMK) there are a number of options depending on your personal circumstances.

Likewise the National Museum of Denmark including a number of its other museums including the Frilands Museum are also charging now for the same reason and have ticket combinations worth looking at, especially the year pass for all sites (the two mentioned above and Tøjhusmuseet, Kommandørgården, Musikmuseet, Brede Værk, Frøslevlejrens Museum and Hangar 46) . For more information here.

Whilst it is a shame that national cultural institutions need to start charging they have, at least, given a lot of thought as to how to keep their core and loyal visitors coming, whilst maintaining their services.


My top three cultural experiences in Vejle

Many people head over to Jutland to visit Legoland, just as we did this summer but we were delighted to find a wealth of other amazing experiences in this area. We had booked to stay in Vejle for a week, with two days at Legoland, and we are unsure if there would be enough to occupy us for the rest of the week. However, we barely scratched the surface of the area and could easily have spent at least two weeks there and not been bored. If you are interested in Viking history or bog bodies (the latter in my case), then this is the area for you.  So here are our cultural recommendations of things to do after you have been to Legoland!

Number One – ØkolarietDSC01096DSC01090

There has been an enormous amount of investment from the local kommune in culture in Vejle and many of the museums and cultural attractions are free and excellent. We spent the whole afternoon at Økolariet (Ecolarium) in the centre of Vejle. They are keen to stress that this is not a museum but a knowledge centre and experimentarium. The basis of the centre is exhibitions and events geared to learning about nature, environment, energy, climate, food, health, sustainability and much more. It covers several floors and through the interactive displays you can learn all about the world around us. We loved walking on the bottom of a lake and underneath a forest but the big winner of the day was the workshop (there was a small charge for this) to build a rocket from recycled materials and then going out onto the roof garden to shoot it into space. They offer different exciting workshops through the year. The whole centre is well thought out to ensure that all visitors are engaged but also learn a lot about the environment without feeling preached to. The staff are enthusiastic and very ready to answer questions about the displays. The kommune will continue to support the Økolariet whilst there are still people enjoying it and visiting the centre so do go if you are in the area.

Address and website: ØkolarietDæmningen 11, 7100 Vejle  www.okolariet.dkDSC01094

Number Two –  Cultural Museum Spinderihallene

IMG_1240This is another cultural centre supported by the kommune and free to the public. The old cotton mill from 1896 when Vejle was the centre of the Danish textile industry has been restored and transformed into a home to some of Vejle’s new micro-industries and creative studios but is also home to a new heritage museum. The museum traces the history of the  town from Viking times through the time when it was known as the Manchester of Denmark to modern times. Although you would probably only spend an hour or so here it is well worth a visit. They currently have the famous bog body from Haraldskær on display and the interactive displays centred around her are fascinating even for non bog body geeks. DSC01069The highlight for us was the fantastic dance hall set up where you can get your disco moves on (and a variety of other dance styles) with an interactive screen and floor set up. My son and I had to be forcibly removed from this! There is a specific children’s section but I think the whole museum would be interesting for the whole family.IMG_0502

There were many other museums in the Vejle Museum family but sadly we didn’t have time to visit any others this time but here is information on them all.

Address: Spinderigade 11, 7100 Vejle  Website

Number Three – Kongernes JellingDSCN4293

The Kongernes Jelling experience centre and the UNESCO hertiage site is also well worth a visit, we tagged it onto our journey home after a day spent in Århus but I wish now we had allowed more time as there was so much more we wanted to see but ran out of time.

Again this is a free museum and a fabulous one at that. I have not seen the high level of interactivity in a visitors’ centre ever and I take my hat off to the team that worked on this place. Jelling is known as the birthplace of Denmark and famous for two massive rune stones, one of which is it said the word Denmark was first written. There are also two enormous burial mounds. No one can disagree that this is a massively significant place for Danish and Viking history but by opening such as amazing visitors’ centre on the site, the National Musuem of Denmark has made sure this is a location that fascinates and enthrals even the casual visitor.  Once again the policy to make the best use of the roof top when designing new buildings has come into play here. From the flat roof you can see over the burial mounds but the real innovation is the digital binoculars from which you can look in detail at the surrounding area not just as it is now but by using a dial you can change the view to times past to see how the area has changed and developed over the centuries. I may have mentioned before that we are fans of museums but this place made such an impression on my son, he is still talking about it. And to think that we nearly didn’t go, don’t make the same mistake!

Address: Gormsgade 23, 7300 Jelling  Website

Next time we are in Vejle, I would love to head over to Silkeborg Museum, further north to see Tollund Man, arguably the most famous bog body and also visit many more of the Viking and historic sights in the area. If you are looking for more inspiration check this website out.


ARoS – Århus Art Museum

Whilst we were staying in Vejle this summer we paid a visit to ARoS – Århus Kunstmuseum (Århus Art Museum), one of Europe’s largest art museums. The building’s exterior would be somewhat bland (despite having be designed by some well renowned architects) without its roof top addition. Its interior is a pleasant surprise and very reminiscent of the Guggenheim in New York.IMG_1381

DSC01109The main reason for the visit was to see the Rainbow Panorama by Olafur Eliasson, which was opened in 2011. This is what the museum say about it.

 The world-famous Danish-Icelandic artist has created this permanent work of art consisting of a circular, 150-metre-long and three metre-wide circular walkway in glass in all the colours of the spectrum. Mounted on slender columns 3.5 metres above the roof and with a diameter of 52 metres, this spectacular creation extends from one edge to the other of the facade of the cubic museum building.

I was so glad that we made the trip to see this. Such a simple concept yet so beautiful and unique at the same time. We walked around a few times with my son marvelling at the changes of colour and also how these impacted on the photos we took of each other (the joy of the instant nature of digital photography). I then walked around on my own and managed to capture some empty shots despite the number of people there. I loved looking up from below and how the coloured glass made the people look like ants.


DSC01127 DSC01132 DSC01137 DSC01140 DSC01142 IMG_1369 However there is more to the museum than just this. We spent a morning there but you could certainly find enough to see for a whole day. Other highlights for us included the permanent exhibition of Ron Mueck’s Boy, first shown at the Millennium Dome in 2000 and now purchased by ARoS. This amazingly lifelike sculpturel of a boy stands (or crouches to be precise) at 4.5m and the attention to detail is outstanding. I particularly noticed how the skin on his elbows was completely as a real person’s would be. I think this was the most memorable part of the visit for my son.

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For these two unique elements alone I would recommend a visit to ARoS but after enjoying the current exhibition , Form, Colour and Plane, and seeing the calendar for the rest of the year, I just wish we lived close enough to experience all this place has to offer.

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Beautiful light in Thorvaldsens Museum

After being cooped up inside for so long it is wonderful to see blue skies and have the mercury hit double figures. I looked out the window yesterday morning and decided to catch the bus to Christiansborg and go up the tower for some new views of the city. I joined a small queue, went through the security scanners (which were not set off by my bionic arm) only to find out the lift was awaiting repair. As I live here and can go up anytime I decided not to brave the steep and arduous staircase. I had an hour to spare so I decided to visit Thorvaldsens Museum close by instead.IMG_9715

This is the oldest museum in Denmark and houses only the works of Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsens. I was my first visit. I doubt I could spend the two hours the ticket office chap recommended but it was a nice forty five minute stroll around.DSC00441

The statues are interesting and the place seems to attract a number of artists and there are chairs and tables dotted around to make sketching more comfortable.DSC00444I found the amazing Spring light on the white sculptures and colourful walls and ceilings very relaxing. I am not sure I would visit often but it is worth the 40kr entrance at least once.thorvalds 2DSC00451 DSC00453 thorvaldsen 1Address: Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads 2, 1213 Copenhagen K



Søfart Museum cafe


When we went away over the Christmas break we spent a day exploring the Kronborg Castle at Helsingør and the relatively new Maritime Museum of Denmark. I will probably be writing about this museum elsewhere on the internet but I thought I would share its amazing cafe today. You can go into the cafe without visiting the museum.

The cafe ( and indeed the museum itself ) is located in a building designed by BJarke Ingels Group and is situated in an old dry dock close to Kronborg Castle.

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The cafe has rough cement walls which are the perfect backdrop to the stylish yet slightly Vikingesque decor with fur rugs, stylish candle holders and Arne Jacobsen letter cups on the coffee station. I love that museums here offer such fantastically well thought out and designed cafés rather than places that resemble food courts. In the summer there is a huge area outside for tables and chairs, it looks like a potential sun trap so I look forward to coming back in the summer.
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The food was delicious, although not enormous portions. The cakes and coffees are well worth a pit stop.

sofart food

Roses at Rosenborg Castle

We had a bit of a touristy day yesterday and went to Rosenborg Castle for my son to see the crown jewels.  It was interesting but the highlight for me was a walk around the rose gardens, which you can visit without paying to get into the castle. Roses hold a very special place in my heart as I growing up we had a wonderful selection of both colourful and deeply scented roses in our garden. I loved coming home from school to find a single fragrant, deep red rose in a vase in my bedroom placed there by my mum – simple pleasures.CIMG6854 CIMG6863 CIMG6866 CIMG6867 CIMG6869 CIMG6877 CIMG6888

On a practical note we bought this special Museum Park ticket, which offers the chance to  visit six museums close to each other in the city on one ticket for 195kr. You can visit each one once over a period of a year and saves you loads of money.