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The best museums to visit to understand us Danes better

Photo: SMK - National Gallery of Denmark

We have a rich history. So rich in fact that most of us can't even retell half of it. But luckily, we have a lot of passionate locals around the country, who are eager to share their vast knowledge of Denmark's history and culture at our many museums. Here are 18 of Denmark’s best museums.

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01

The National Museum

Don’t know where to start your journey through Denmark’s history? Then we suggest you head to our National Museum. Here you can get a general overview about the different eras of our history, or you can immerse yourself in a specific time period. Stone Age, Viking Age, Middle Ages, Renaissance or Modern times, this museum’s got it all.

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Photo: Your rainbow panorama, Olafur Eliasson, 2006 - 2011, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. Photo: Robin Skjoldborg.
02

ARoS

In the centre of our second city, Aarhus, you’ll find one of the largest art museums in Northern Europe, ARoS, and one of our absolute favourites. Because this museum figured out how to make the greyest days colourful, by simply slapping a giant circular rainbow walkway on the top of the building.

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H.C. Andersen's House in Odense from outside in the garden
Photo: Lærke Bech Johansen for H.C. Andersen's House
03

H C Andersens Hus

People tend to say that walking around in our little kingdom is like walking in a fairy tale. This comparison might be due to a certain Danish fairy tale writer whose stories are known around the world. Hans Christian Andersen has given us tales such as The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Snow Queen. And you can get to know our most famous author and his world at H C Andersens Hus in Odense.

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Photo: Bang Clemme Film & Openhouse - Kongernes Jelling
04

Kongernes Jelling

Did you know that we can pinpoint when we went from being simply humans living somewhere close to each other to being Danes? We even have a birth certificate in the form of two big Viking rune stones. You can see them in the little town of Jelling and learn more about our Viking kings at the visitor centre, Kongernes Jelling.

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Photo: Mike Bink
05

Tirpitz

Hidden beneath the dunes along our rugged North Sea coast, you might be able to spot the hidden bunker museum, Tirpitz, which tells the story of the Atlantic Wall during the 2nd World War. But you’ll also get an look inside the history of the entire region, and our relationship with and dependence on the wild North Sea.

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Photo: Ulrik Jantzen - Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
06

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

As the first museum of modern art in Denmark, Louisiana was the place where we Danes learned how to appreciate contemporary art. Today, the museum is a leading international art museum and its exhibitions are critically acclaimed. Add to that, it has one of the world’s best locations (in our humble opinion) as you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible view of Øresund.

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M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark
Photo: Rasmus Hjortshøj - Copenhagen Media Center
07

M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark

We’re a proud little island nation with a long maritime history. Wherever we are in Denmark, we’re never more than 53 km from the sea, which has made us dependent on the sea throughout our history. At the Maritime Museum in Helsingør, we’ll tell you about our seafaring Viking raids, sing a few sea shanties, and teach you how to navigate and do trades like it was 1749.

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08

SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark

At our National Gallery, SMK, you can see how we Danes have depicted our everyday lives throughout the past seven centuries. SMK is particularly known for its comprehensive collections of paintings from the Danish Golden Age and contemporary art pieces. 

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Dänisches Rockmuseum RAGNAROCK in Roskilde
Photo: Museumskoncernen ROMU
09

Ragnarock

You can tell a lot about a country by studying its songs and musical heritage. And if you’re a music lover like us, we’d love to show and play you some of Denmark’s most iconic and influential songs at the museum for pop, rock and youth culture, Ragnarock. You might even know a few of them. The museum is in the city of Roskilde which is also home to Northern Europe’s biggest music festival.

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10

Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg Castle is one of the most famous castles in Denmark and for good reason: situated on three islands surrounded by a lake and beautiful gardens, it's simply breathtaking. Home to the Museum of National History, the grounds are full of rich history, architecture, and gardens.

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11

Designmuseum Danmark

Some say you shouldn’t meet your icons. But when it comes to the Danish design icons, we wouldn’t go without. Because we have an enormous passion for design and after a visit to the design museum in Copenhagen, you’ll hopefully understand why. 

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Horse carriage in Den Gamle By (old town museum) in Aarhus, Denmark
Photo: © Robin Skjoldborg
12

The Old Town Museum

If you want to experience how our lives have changed and evolved over the past centuries, you can walk through our history at The Old Town Museum in Aarhus.

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Skagen Art Museum
Photo: Skagens Kunstmuseer
13

Skagen's Museum

At the very top of Denmark’s wild North lies the one of our favourite holiday towns, Skagen. The 700-year-old fishing village transformed into an artsy retreat in the late 1800s, as some of Denmark’s most famous painters flocked to the town to try and capture the area’s unique light. You can see the iconic works of art from the "Skagen painters" at the Skagen’s Museum.

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Photo: Wonderful Copenhagen
14

Visit Carlsberg

We Danes love beer. And we'd love to share our passion about beer with you. It might happen over a pint in a bar, at a beer tasting at a local brewery, or you could head to the old Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen where you can learn all about our proud history of brewing high-quality beer and Carlsberg, the world's most famous beer company. Probably.

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Photo: Martin Heiberg - Copenhagen Media Center
15

The Viking Ship Museum

Our little part of the world is known around the world as the home of the Vikings. And this era in our history has put a permanent mark on us Danes even to this day. (For instance we call Christmas “Jul” in Danish which can be traced back to our Viking ancestors). In the old Viking town of Roskilde you can learn to set sail and build ships like they did.

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Photo: Moesgaard Museum
16

Moesgaard Museum

If you want to know who we were before we were Danes, we suggest you head to Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus where you can figure out what happened all those many years ago in pre-historic Denmark. (P.S. We love that you’re so interested in our history that you want to take it waaaaaay back!)

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Photo: Brittany Overgaard
17

Open Air Museum

In just one afternoon, you can travel the length and breadth of Denmark at the Open Air Museum, north of Copenhagen. Here you’ll find 50 re-erected farms, mills, and houses which we Danes lived in from the 1600-1900s, and you’ll meet passionate reenactors that will show you how we used to spend our lives.

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Learn about Danish architecture and go on architecture tours at BLOX in Copenhagen
Photo: Astrid Maria Rasmussen - Copenhagen Media Center
18

The Danish Architecture Center

Our skylines tell as good a story as our museums these days. And where better to hear about how these buildings were built and why than the Danish Architecture Center? This Copenhagen museum is packed with stories about people and spaces, including sections on everyone from Jørn Utzon, Vilhelm Lauritzen and Arne Jacobsen to modern starchitects like Bjarke Ingels.

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