Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Thorvaldsen Museum is a single-artist museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, dedicated to the art of Danish neoclassicistic sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844), who lived and worked in Rome for most of his life (1796–1838) The museum is located on the small island of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen next to Christiansborg Palace Designed by Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll, the building was constructed from 1838-48 following a public collection of funds in 1837

Bertel Thorvaldsen lived from 1770 to 1844 and Thorvaldsens Museum is Denmark’s oldest and also most extraordinary museum building.

Thorvaldsens Museum opened on 18 September 1848 and was the first public museum building in Denmark. The characteristic museum building was built to exhibit the extensive life’s work of the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and today still looks more or less as it did when it opened over 150 years ago.

Thorvaldsens Museum houses nearly all of the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s original models for the sculptures he created for numerous European countriesWith its strong colours both on the outside and inside and a very original architecture the museum building right in the middle of Copenhagen is a fantastic setting for Thorvaldsen’s works and collections

Thorvaldsens Museum stands apart from all other houses in Copenhagen with its large decorations. The facades are ochre coloured with white, blue and green stripes and on these you find a pictorial frieze with numerous figures, running nearly all the way around the house.

Inside, the walls are covered in deep, saturated colours, and each room has its individually decorated ceiling with mythological motifs, beautiful ornaments and a myriad of extraordinary details and specially designed mosaic floors.

Thorvaldsen was an international star in his time, and on the roof of the museum the goddess of victory drives her team of four and expresses the fame that Thor­valdsen achieved with his art.

The building is strongly inspired by antique Greek architecture and built around an inner courtyard where the artist is buried The courtyard is particularlarly notable being painted in Eqyptian motifs, tall date palms, lions and crocodile prowl among exotic birds and plants The Egyptian influence on the exterior is more chaste, here enormous doors in severe trapezoidal style define the architect’s intentions to pay homage at once to Attic Greek, Pompeiian and Egyptian style It is particularly noteworthy for its unique use of colors both inside and outside Every room in the museum has a unique ceiling decoration in the grotesque style The outside is adorned with a frieze depicting Thorvaldsen’s homecoming from Rome in 1838 made by Jørgen Sonne

The museum displays a comprehensive collection of the artist’s works in marble as well as plaster, including the original plaster models used in the making of cast bronze and marble statues and reliefs, which are now on display in museums, churches, and at other locations around the world The museum also features paintings, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiques, drawings, and prints that Thorvaldsen collected during his lifetime, as well as a wide array of personal belongings that he used in his work and everyday life

Thorvaldsens Museum also contains Thorvaldsen’s drawings and sketches for sculptures and reliefs. In addition Thorvaldsen was a passionate collector, so the museum also exhibits his extensive collections of paintings from his own time and collections of artworks and objects from Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity. The museum also shows changing exhibitions that go into greater depth with aspects of the permanent collections, including contemporary art.

The collections at Thorvaldsens Museum consist of Thorvaldsen’s own sculptures and sketches, of his extensive collections of contemporary art, of art and objects from the antiquity, of graphic art, of medals, letters, books, personal objects etc.

The moment you walk in the door of Thorvaldsens Museum, you also enter a quite unique uni­verse centring on Thorvaldsen’s life, art and art collections. The museum not only offers out­stan­ding art and architecture; it is also an authentic ‘period piece’ from 1848, which is interesting today from both an aesthetic and historical perspective. The teaching of the Schools Service is dia­logue-based, and we aim at creating a constructive encounter between the student’s own expe­riences of art and the museum’s specialist experience and interpretation – an encounter in which we all learn and gain a subtler understanding of art, of how it is perceived and used, giving the student the experience of being an important, valued co-creator of new perspectives on and mea­n­ings for the art and the classical material in our collections.

The educational activities characteristically have a classical content but a present-day focus. The students are encouraged to relate creatively and reflectively to the classical art and to its topicality and meaning in a modern context. This is done by incorporating digital media as well as current con­temporary parallels in the teaching. In this field of interactions between the classical and the contemporary new and relevant interpretations are broached with the students as co-creators.

We believe that the interpretations of art that arise in the encounter between student and museum can be of importance not only to the student, but also to others, inasmuch as communication about art becomes more interesting when more voices can be heard.

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