The Collections

The Museum of National History depicts 500 years of Danish history through portraits, history paintings, furniture and applied art.

The Museum’s collection of portraits is the largest in Denmark, featuring portrait paintings, busts, reliefs and portrait photographs. The history paintings depict subjects from the history of Denmark and include several famous works. The Museum’s collection of applied art ranges from the 16th century to the present day.

On the 3rd floor the Museum has put together a collection of portraits, history paintings and furniture from the 20th and 21st centuries. So the account of the history of Denmark extends right up to the present day.

The Photographic Gallery is an extension of the exhibition about the 20th and 21st centuries. The gallery features temporary exhibitions and selected photographic artworks from the Museum’s collection.

Christian 7., malet af Alexander Roslin, 1772.


The Museum of National History features portraits of kings and nobles, artists and politicians, and puts a face on history.

The Museum’s older collection mainly includes portraits of royals and nobles, the elite of their day. As the influence of the middle classes gained ground during the 17th century it became more normal for artists, scientists, military figures and politicians to have their portraits painted. More recently the portraits of sports personalities and actors have been featured in the collection. The people portrayed are, or were distinguished personalities who play or played a role in the history of Denmark.

The majority of the portrait paintings are original works by such artists as Karel van Mander, Jens Juel, Wilhelm Marstrand, P.S. Krøyer and Niels Strøbek.

"Danmark 2009", malet af Peter Carlsen, 2009.

History Paintings

The history painting has been a major feature of The Museum of National History since its inauguration in 1878. On a trip to France, the brewer J. C. Jacobsen visited the Museum of the History of France at Versailles, which presents the history of France in paintings. The Museum made a profound impression on Jacobsen, and it was here that he came up with the idea of furnishing the Museum of National History with paintings that could bring to life Denmark’s past and enhance Danes’ national pride.

Two examples of these history paintings are:

  1. Otto Bache’s The Conspirators Riding Away from Finderup after Murdering King Erik Klipping in 1286 was painted in 1880-82 and was one of the Museum’s first acquisitions. The painting, which has virtually become a monument to the National Romantic perception of history, portrays the last regicide in Denmark.
  2. The artist, Laurits Tuxen’s monumental painting, The Taking of Arkona by Valdemar the Great and Bishop Absalon in 1169 remains a major work in the collection. Our knowledge of the event comes from Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, which was commissioned by Absalon.

As a genre, the history painting is still relevant, and in 1998 Thomas Kluge painted A Short Stay, depicting Danish UN soldiers in Bosnia.  The 20th and 21st Century collection also features Peter Carlsen’s painting, Denmark 2009, which depicts a country in a state of transition and dissolution.

Furniture and Applied Art

The Museum’s interiors range from the Renaissance and Baroque ages to the early decades of the 20th century.

The brewer J. C. Jacobsen’s plan for a museum of national history at Frederiksborg Castle was realised in 1878. Its aim was to bring to life important historical events and portray the individuals who have made their mark on the history of Denmark. The plan also included refurbishing the interior of Frederiksborg Castle as a banqueting venue for the Royal Family. So from the first year of its existence, the Museum amassed a distinguished collection of furniture and applied art as part of the account of the history of Denmark.

Terms and Conditions for Loans

See the Museum’s Terms and Conditions for Loans

Frederiksborg Castle has housed The Museum of National History since 1878, when it was established by brewer J.C. Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg. The Museum is still run as a branch of the Carlsberg Foundation.

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