Set in the heart of Copenhagen, yet unknown to many, Teatermuseet i Hofteatret (The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre) has housed theatre for more than 250 years. The Court Theatre is part of Christiansborg Palace but has survived both great fires which consumed the palace itself, and today serves not just as a theatre but also as a museum of Danish theatrical history.
TEXT: SIGNE HANSEN | PHOTOS: THE THEATRE MUSEUM AT THE COURT THEATRE
The Theatre Museum explores different aspects of Danish theatrical history through paintings, photographs, costumes, and memorabilia. But it is not the exhibition of history, but the experience of the Court Theatre itself that sets the place apart from other museums, according to museum director Peter Christensen Teilmann. “While the official theatre was The Royal Theatre, The Court Theatre was equivalent to what would today be the King’s private television lounge – it’s where the most powerful men of the country would meet to plot and scheme, and when you step in here, you sense the history everywhere. Indeed, with the original interior still intact, visitors may sit down in one of the plush velvet chairs, surrounded by the royal boxes and intricately decorated ceilings, letting themselves be transported right back to the 18th century.
Teatermuseet i Hofteatret (The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre) has housed theatre for more than 250 years and a theatre museum for almost 100 years.
The theatre itself is still active, with performances of all kinds – contemporary and classic, music and theatre – taking place in the evenings. During the day, however, the historic stage is free for visitors to test their dramatic skills. “It’s not just a museum where you walk around and look at things; you may also jump onto the stage and give your own little performance – and you would be surprised how many people actually do,” says Teilmann. Visitors who do so may go home in the knowledge that they have performed on the same stage as Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, who, in his early years, harboured hopes of becoming a ballet dancer and thus enrolled in the ballet school at The Court Theatre.
Inside the actual building, visitors will also find what is probably the best hidden café in Copenhagen. Set in the theatre’s foyer, the café offers beautiful views of Christiansborg’s riding ground and central Copenhagen. The café and the entire theatre are also available for hire for private events.
From the beginning of 2021, the theatre will undergo a comprehensive restoration and renovation, and when re-opening ultimo 2022 with improved facilities for visitors, The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre will present an exhibition aimed at opening and improving the historic experience to an even broader audience.
Trailer to the movie about The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre, the oldest still working theatre house in Denmark, produced by Julie Born Schwartz (2019).