SMK houses a large collection of Danish and international paintings, sculptures, drawings and installations. The Gallery’s educational activities include the collection, registration, and conservation of art, research on art history, and general public education.
The extensive SMK collections originate from the holdings of the 17th- and 18th-century Danish kings, particularly those of King Frederik V who, in the 1760s, established a large collection of Old Masters paintings (?) which he housed at Christiansborg Castle. Christiansborg castle burned in 1884, but nearly all of the paintings were miraculously saved. The surviving collections became the founding collection of SMK, which opened to the public in 1896. SMK now presents between six and eight special exhibitions a year, always based on new research. Since the opening of the Royal Picture Gallery to the public in 1827, the museum has had a mandate to collect contemporary Danish art, and does so to this day.