Museum City Guide: Mel’s Top 5 for Families in Copenhagen

July 22, 2013

Kids in Museums, Denmark

Today I’m really happy to welcome back Melanie Haynes, in the first of the ‘Museum City Guide’ guest editions that I had promised you. Mel and I originally became friends through an English speaking playgroup in Berlin, and she has previously contributed a guest post on toddler testing Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde with her son, who is a year older than #MuseumBaby. We were really sad when Mel and her family moved back to Copenhagen, and also a little bit jealous because it’s a place I’ve always wanted to spend some time. Since it doesn’t look like we’ll be making it there any time soon, I was delighted when Mel offered to share her top child-friendly museums in Copenhagen here on Museum Diary. For more posts about museums and other interesting things in Copenhagen, check out Mel’s blog Dejlige Days.

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Copenhagen is renowned for being extremely child friendly and the museums are certainly in on this act. Most museums here offer special events for children during the school holidays and at weekends but there are a number that have permanent sections designed specifically with children in mind. Very much like Jenni, I have always encouraged my son to experience and enjoy museums from an early age and now at three and a half, he likes all kinds. I told him I was writing this guest post and asked him for his top three museums and here they are.

1. The Workers’ Museum (Arbejdermuseet)

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In 2011 the Workers’ Museum opened a new section downstairs especially for children to explore life in Copenhagen at the turn of the 20th century. Everything is to be touched and played with. There is a room with dolls houses from different times showing how living spaces in Copenhagen have evolved from tenement housing to row houses in the 1960s. There are some rooms glassed over but others open for playing.

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The highlights of this museum have to be the real sized shop, pawnbrokers, dance hall and one room apartment. My son spends hours serving me in the shop wearing the shopkeepers’ overalls. We then move onto the apartment and he prepares meals in the kitchen. In the union office he answers the phone and types a memo. It is all great fun but at the same time he has learned so much about how children lived in much less economically comfortable times.

2. The Children’s Museum at the National Museum (Nationalmuseet)

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The National Museum covers the history of Denmark from prehistoric times to now. It is fascinating to visit and it is all free. This museum also has a complete and separate children’s museum. It also looks at life in Denmark spanning a diverse time periods and interesting aspects. Again there are particular favourites for us. There is a huge ship representing the Danish history on the waves, on which children can climb inside a ships’ cabin and spin the ships wheel. The Viking section is always a winner with a Viking ship to climb on and play at fishing, a Viking kitchen with a cauldron and bread oven complete with baskets of Viking food. There are appropriate dressing up areas in all sections. Other parts of the exhibit include a Pakistani village complete with a house and shop (representing the ethnic background of many Danes) and a huge horse to sit on. We could, and regularly do, spend hours here.

Both this museum and the Workers’ Museum offer pleasant spaces to eat your own pack lunch as well as restaurants if you wish to buy food.

3. National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst)

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The main part of the free National Gallery is wonderful for children as he colours and textures in the modern art selection were great to stimulate a child’s imagination.

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The gallery also offers a Children’s Workshop, which is open to the public at the weekends and during the holidays (see their website for full details). For 45kr my son had the chance to paint, make collages from found items and plastercine. For older children there were tables set up for making more advanced sculptures using glue guns. The staff were super friendly and very willing to speak in English to my son. You can take home anything you make and it was a great way to spend an hour.

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The other great aspect of the museum for families is the quality of the food in the cafe. It is not excessively expensive for Copenhagen and the kids’ meal was a junk food free zone and just the kind of food to give a child a healthy but appealing energy boost The soup and salad change daily and at the weekends and during holidays there is a great brunch buffet.

Other museums we enjoy are:

4. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek featuring Roman artifacts including coins found from a shipwreck and French impressionist paintings. In the holidays they also offer workshops for children. We went along to the paint your own Impressionist painting.

5. Post and Tele Museum

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The Post and Tele Museum in the centre of the city has a ‘museum’ part but they also have a free play area called Inside the Stamp. This is another hands-on, fun learning experience. There is a sorting office with uniforms, a Danish post box and a small town of homes of famous Danish people from HC Andersen to Queen Margrethe to deliver letters to.

A big thank you to Melanie and her son form sharing their favourite museum spots. We’re off to Copenhagen for a family holiday over Christmas, and look forward to checking out some of the recommendations!

(All photographs by Melanie Haynes)

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