In the courtyard of the eponymous Thorvaldsen’s Museum, cocooned in ancient Greek and Roman architecture and surrounded by his life’s work, is the final resting place of Danish-Icelandic sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Just as Thorvaldsen’s neo-classical marble figures take inspiration from the art of antiquity – Greek, Egyptian, Pompeiian – so too does the architecture of Thorvaldsen’s Museum itself. Opened in 1848, it features decorative ceilings, huge trapezoidal doors and Egyptian motifs of date trees, mosaic floors and exotic birds painted on the ceilings – the richly visual interiors providing a striking contrast to Thorvaldsen’s pristine sculptures.

On display, too, is the artist’s personal collection of paintings, antiquities and prints, while the outside of the building is adorned with a frieze depicting Thorvaldsen’s homecoming to Copenhagen from Rome in 1838. “It’s a stunning space with a very unique atmosphere,” says head of PR and communication, Maria Horn Rasmussen.

Thorvaldsens Museum: Contemporary meets neo-classical at Denmark’s oldest art museum

What’s on?

Unusually, for the art world, Thorvaldsen was internationally renowned during his lifetime. He spent long periods working abroad: “That’s why we’ve chosen to honour his legacy by inviting international contemporary artists to exhibit work in dialogue with that of Thorvaldsen, here in the museum,” says Horn Rasmussen. 2 September will see the launch of an exhibition of large-scale, site-specific sculptures in the first ever Danish solo-show by Irish-American artist Sean Scully. SEAN SCULLY MATERIAL WORLD will showcase works that interact with the architecture, colours and surroundings of Thorvaldsen’s Museum.

“We also have a comprehensive events calendar, with concerts, talks, workshops, masterclasses, guided tours, and more available online,” says Horn Rasmussen. “Thorvaldsen’s legacy is the beauty that lives on in this museum, and it continues to inspire visitors from all over the world.“

Thorvaldsens Museum: Contemporary meets neo-classical at Denmark’s oldest art museum

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