July 11, 2010

What we offer

Research and Exhibitions

We like to share. The National Gallery of Denmark is a vibrant source of art expertise and treasures, and the Gallery works hard to share these gems with the general public. We are proud and honored to fulfill our duty of caring for, researching, and presenting art of the past, present, and future.

Art with a Worldwide Reach

As the National Gallery of Denmark, SMK is committed to presenting Danish art in a national as well as an international context. The Gallery collaborates with preeminent museums and art galleries worldwide. In the last two decades, the Gallery has had several exhibitions on Danish art tour outside of Denmark. These include The Golden Age of Danish Painting (Los Angeles & New York 1993-94),Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (Washington, D.C. 2003), Nicolai Abildgaard (Paris and Hamburg 2008-09),Christen Købke (London and Edinburgh 2010), Vilhelm Hammershøj (New York, Toronto, Seattle 2015-16).

Knowledge and Art Research

SMK is among the largest and leading institutions in Denmark within the field of art historical research. Much of the research focuses on works of art housed in the Gallery’s own collections. All major exhibitions are based on recent, thorough research and always accompanied by an extensive publication. Our exhibitions arise out of our desire to share with our audiences our knowledge and the wonders of art from all over the world. We want art to be relevant. We want art to carry messages of universal import; messages that reach out to and capture the interest of all those who visit the Gallery. We are very aware that by collaborating with others we are able to make the most of our research.

That is why the National Gallery of Denmark endeavors to cooperate and share our knowledge with scholars and other stakeholders around the world. To this end, the Gallery hosts international seminars and conferences, publishes all its catalogues in English as well as in Danish, and cooperates with museums and galleries outside of Denmark. Extended research is conducted within the field of art history as well as art techniques and conservation. For a number of years, SMK has collaborated on research projects with universities in Denmark and worldwide. This allows PhD scholars to be attached to the Gallery and benefit from its research environment. Having extended its facilities for research on Danish and international art, SMK has established a formal research center with the aim of attracting external scholars and postgraduate students.

Read more about our research and exhibitions

Frise med winter og spring1Snapshots from AFSMK-Development-Events 

Conservation, Research and Science

The Gallery presents art from seven centuries – from the early Renaissance up to the present day. The task of looking after the art is both extensive and demanding.

Respect for the Art

The purpose of conservation is to extend the lifespan of the artwork in question. The Gallery’s Conservation Department is concerned with preventing damage to works by repairing any damage that may occur, ensuring that the works present themselves in their best possible condition. These tasks require thorough and extensive research into the creation of the work, as well as the artist’s choice of materials. Besides this, there are also many processes involved in moving, photographing, and registering the individual works of art.

Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation

In 2011, the research collaboration Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation, CATS was made possible by a considerable donation from the Villum Foundation and the Velux Foundation. CATS is a partnership between the three Copenhagen based institutions Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), National Museum of Denmark (NMD) and School of Conservation (SoC) at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation. The cornerstone of CATS is technical art history, the interdisciplinary field of research between conservators, natural scientists and scholars from art historical and cultural studies. Technical art history investigates the making and meaning of art works, painting techniques and artists’ materials.

A main objective of the research centre is to develop new and more precise methods to diagnose, treat and preserve our art historical heritage. The exploration of numerous artistic processes aims to shed light on the complex and fascinating cartography of aging processes within works of art – to contribute to and advance the field of technical art history.

Inviting Audiences In

The processes involved in the conservation and restoration of artworks are also highly relevant to general audiences. Recognizing this, the National Gallery of Denmark has invited our visitors to enter our workshops in connection with a wide range of restoration projects. This initiative, which has proven very successful, has allowed the public to closely follow restoration projects as they unfold. Visitor involvement is accompanied by a number of other initiatives such as lectures arranged by the conservation department, the Gallery’s online database, and the restoration department’s blogs where the Gallery’s conservation staff shares thoughts and information about their work. All this creates an environment of openness and ample opportunities for worldwide dialogue, which in turn offers added potential for working with art on a whole new level.  These initiatives facilitate a new interplay between visitors, the art, and our art professionals.

Read more about conservation, research and science

Frise med Armory fritSnapshots from Private Tour at the Armory Show in New York


SMK owns the world’s largest and most representative collection of Danish painting, sculpture and graphic art, and has a commitment to continuously add to these collections.

Danish Art with an International Perspective

As the National Gallery of Denmark, SMK has an obligation to present Danish art in a national as well as an international context. It is a fundamental principle of the collections that whenever possible, Danish art should be seen in an international context. Thus, the Gallery does not limit its acquisitions to Danish art only; it strives to include significant works of art by non-Danish artists as well. We collaborate with a number of the most outstanding museums and art galleries in the world. SMK has permitted its works of Danish art to be shown abroad in a number of exhibitions around the world.

The Collections

SMK owns a splendid collection of art that includes approximately 9,000 paintings and sculptures, more than 245,000 drawings and prints, and more than 2,600 plaster casts of figures from ancient times, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The majority of the older works hail from the art chambers of Danish kings. Nearly 3,000 works of arts are exhibited to the public in the museum building itself. The remaining works are in storage, on display at other museums and institutions in Denmark or around the world.

A Collection that Reflects History

In order to meet the mandate that the Gallery should contribute to the cultural history of the world, it is important for the National Gallery of Denmark to regularly add to the collections. The Gallery is an image bank in the sense that it is a place where visitors can delve into marvelous images that illustrate how artists from the past viewed their own time. It is equally important for the Gallery to show future generations how the artists of our present day view contemporary society. At all times, we wish to include a present-day perspective on the past and a past perspective on the present. To carry out this crucial task, the Gallery needs funding from a range of partners.

Read more about the collections

Snapshots from Painting Tranquility. Masterworks of Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK, October 2015Snapshots from Painting Tranquility. Masterworks of Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK in New York. Watch a video about the Vilhelm Hammershøi exhibition here:


A visit to a museum involves much more than individual encounters with specific works of art. A fully satisfying museum visit also involves interaction with the institution housing the art, an encounter that should be rich in experiences in its own right. We wish to allow our visitors the opportunity to approach art in several different ways. At the museum we pay attention to presenting our art, exhibitions, and the themes addressed therein through formats such as debates, seminars, conferences, stage events, and film screenings in our in-house cinema.

Education and learning

SMK looks to create a framework that offers a valuable introduction to the great diversity of art. The museum focuses on processes and works on the basis of the multiform experiences possible within the world of art.

The Stage and the Cinema

The Stage is one of our alternative voices for art. The activities on the Stage present art via live media and in a way that adds vibrancy to the museum sphere. Our wish is to have the activities on the Stage initiate new groups into the realms of art and to add an extra element to the experience offered to regular visitors at the National Gallery of Denmark. Activities include concerts, performances, readings, debates, seminars, conferences, film screenings, and more. Our vision is to catalyze the exchange of knowledge across nationalities and professional groupings and to reflect our goal of versatility and comprehensiveness. Additionally, visitors can engage in a vibrant dialogue and benefit from fruitful sharing.

Read more about our activities

Frise med Jeppe Hein fritSnapshots from Open Air Tour with  artist Jeppe Hein in Brooklyn Bridge Park