{Denmark} Statens Museum for Kunst

January 15, 2014

Kids in Museums, Denmark

From the moment I first visited the website of the Statens Museum for Kunst – the National Gallery of Denmark – I knew we just had to go there, and that’s not even counting all the word of mouth recommendations we’d had. If you go to ‘Visit the Museum’ and then ‘Children and Families‘ on their website, the first thing you see is a picture of a dad with a toddler. What that image said to me, is that here is a museum that truly embraces families (they could so easily have chosen a picture of a mum) and that we would feel welcome there with out three year old (they could so easily have chosen a picture of an older child). To be honest, I felt a little emotional, but then museums that ‘get it right’ do have that effect on me*.

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Anyway, less about what made us visit the museum, and more about the visit itself. The museum has a range of offers for children and families, of which we tested three. First up, there was the Craft Workshop. For a small fee to cover the cost of materials, #MuseumBaby could make a New Year’s hat out of an incredible selection of materials. We kept it simple, but there were some kids there making truly astonishing structures out of sticks, CDs, wool, you name it, they were making it. There was a table with safety scissors and glue sticks for the littlest artists, and one with glue guns and sharper cutting implements for the older ones. We were also welcome to make anything else we wanted out of the materials if we didn’t fancy a hat, and there’s a painting corner with easels where kids can swing a paint brush. The staff were more than happy to explain everything to us in English, and we didn’t realise we had to pay at the front desk rather than in the workshop itself but were allowed to start getting stuck in while one of us ran back to get the ticket.

SMK Craft Workshop

There are regular workshops on Saturdays and Sundays and during the holidays, open to children of all ages, as well as a big ‘Sunday for Kids’ every first Sunday of the month where there is often a chance to help create a big communal art piece, amongst other things. I think if we lived in Copenhagen, we’d be regular weekend visitors here! By the way, #MuseumBaby ended up wearing his hat on the plane all the way back to Berlin, as it was the only way to get it home safely :)

Statens Museum Kunst Drawing Room

The second thing we tested, was the Drawing Room. Here there are a number of sculptures that visitors can sit down and try their hand at sketching. #MuseumBaby isn’t really very good at drawing yet – not even from a ‘looks like modern art’ point of view – but he had fun scribbling away with the pencils at hand. And the husband – who is VERY good at drawing – had fund sketching #MuseumBaby. Selected drawings from visitors are featured in a slide show for others to see, and in the drawers there are some original artworks from the collections to discover.

SMK Drawing Room Sketching

SMK Drawing Room Video Screen

SMK Drawing Room Drawers

The final thing we tried out, was the family board game. The game is actually aimed at children age 6 and up, and the idea is that you match up a images with the large paintings on the walls of the European Art 1300 – 1800 gallery, and then tell stories to go with them. There are no winners or losers as such, the idea is to encourage families to make their own interpretations of the artworks. But since there were no other people playing at the time, we borrowed a set of cards from the table next to us, and instead played a game of ‘Memory’ – where you turn over cards and try to match up pairs – with #MusuemBaby instead which he really enjoyed. Don’t worry, lovely museum staff, we put everything back in its place before we left :)

SMK Games Room

SMK Memory Game

Of course, we also spent a little time just walking round the galleries and looking at the art work. Below is one of my favourite photographs I’ve taken of #MuseumBaby at a museum, sitting there with his feather hat, carefree as could be, totally enthralled by the painting in front of him. Okay, so the skeletons are a bit gruesome, but it’s what caught his eye. We didn’t make it to the contemporary art section, which is always great with kids, so we’ll definitely have to make it back to Copenhagen and go here again.

SMK Gallery Picture Watching

At one point, #MuseumBaby did seem to reach his limit and went a bit ballistic, running around the galleries like a raging bull in a china shop. My first reaction was to look apologetically over to the museum guard, only to find him smiling as if to say “ah, kids, what can you do”. Since our experiences with art galleries in Berlin have been quite the opposite, this was a pleasant surprise. However, we didn’t want to test the patience of the friendly Danish museum staff, so we said our goodbyes at that point. But by then we’d been at the museum for well over two hours. In summary, this is the most positive experience visiting an art museum that I’ve had with #MuseumBaby in the past three years, and we get around a bit. If you want to introduce your kids to art and art museums at a very young age – which, as you know, I totally think you should – then this is a ‘must visit’ if you’re ever in Copenhagen!

SMK Pushchair Parking

Opening Times: Tuesdays – Sundays, closed on Mondays (check for special opening times/ closures)

Admission: Full price adult day tickets are 110 DKK  (around 15 Euros). Discounts available for under 30s, families and groups. Free admission for under 18s, but additional fees apply for kids workshops. Full details on the SMK website.

Pushchair Policy: You aren’t allowed to bring your pushchair in to the museum, and must park it outside. There is a dedicated, covered ‘pushchair parking lot’ for this to the left side of the main entrance, which hooks to chain your pushchair to. If you don’t have a lock, you can borrow one – as well as a rain cover – from the museum. You can also borrow a pushchair to use inside the museum.

Photography: Photography for personal use is allowed in the permanent exhibitions, without a flash or tripod. If you want to publish them (e.g. on a blog or Instagram) it ‘s your responsibility to get permission from the artists. Photography is not allowed in special exhibitions.

WiFi: Free WiFi

Food: You can bring and eat your own food in the basement cloakroom area. The café offers a children’s option, and at the weekend there’s a brunch. Highchairs are available.


*Note: I know there are many other family constellations out there that could also have been portrayed, and that a dad with a baby is not something groundbreaking or unusual. My point is that it’s still uncommon on many museum websites.  Additionally, since my husband is a very hands-on dad who hates it when he gets lumped in with all the male stereotypes that you often get, anything that gives more coverage of engaged fathers strikes a personal chord.

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3 Responses to “{Denmark} Statens Museum for Kunst”

  1. Nana Bernhardt Says:

    Hello Jenni
    What a pleasure to read about your experience at the museum where I work. I am head of school programs and I also work with creating activities and spaces in the collections that allows different kind of approaches and participatory situations. So what a joy that it actually works out! And also that you describe many different elements of a museumvisit – the website, the artworks, the workshops, the galleries, the guards etc. And what an interesting blog – I will definitely follow it.

    Your photos are really good – would it be possible for us to use them?

    If you want to know more about our activities concerning Children and Youth programs you can download two books from our website (the books are bilingual danish english) and we are just now working on a third one which will be published in april: http://www.smk.dk/besoeg-museet/undervisning/bag-om-bu/

    I can also recommend the book “Dialogue-based Teaching. The Artmuseum as a learning space” which I have co-ritten with Olga Dysthe and Line Esbjørn. If you send me your adress I can send you an english version.

    Best wishes Nana Bernhardt



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