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The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle – national history with an international perspective

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle relates, with sympathetic insight, 500 years of Danish history through historic paintings, portraits, furniture and decorative art. At the same time, the museum’s varying special exhibitions, designed in collaboration with international partners, turn the story of Denmark into a story of the wider world. The Carlsberg Foundation has been managing the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle since 1878.

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle reflects Carlsberg founder J.C. Jacobsen’s fervent interest in history. When large parts of Christian IV’s original Renaissance castle from the 1600s were lost in a devastating fire in 1859, the reconstruction and refurnishing were financed through a national subscription and donations from private individuals, with J.C. Jacobsen making a vital contribution. In 1877, he proposed making the castle the home of a national history museum, and both the Danish Royal Family and the Danish Parliament were persuaded by his plan.

Worldwide exchange

J.C. Jacobsen’s idea was to show how Danish history had also played “its part in humankind’s general cultural development”, as he himself described the purpose of the museum.

Zar Alexander III, Zarina Maria Feodorovna (former Princess Dagmar of Denmark) and their son, Grand Duke Michael, painted by Laurits Tuxen in 1884.

J.C. Jacobsen’s aspiration was that the Museum of National History should strengthen the Danish national identity and self-esteem following the military defeat and loss of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenborg in 1864. He was a patriot and felt connected to the country in which he was born and where his brewery was given room to develop.

 

But J.C. Jacobsen also looked to the world beyond Denmark. Cross-border cooperation, inspiration and exchange were among the guiding principles in the way he built up the Carlsberg brewery and created the Carlsberg Foundation.

 

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle cherishes those values to this very day. Consequently, many of the museum’s more recent exhibitions have been the result of close collaborations with important cultural institutions around the world.

By way of example, the 2013 exhibition “Denmark and the Russian Empire 1600-1900” told the story of Dano-Russian relations during the period of the tsars. For this exhibition, the museum borrowed silverware from the Kremlin and elegant gowns from the great court balls from the imperial Romanov palaces of Pavlovsk and Tsarskoje Selo near St Petersburg. At 2012’s “Prince Gong’s Palace – a Chinese visit at Frederiksborg”, the public was able to experience rooms from Prince Gong’s Imperial Palace in Beijing. At the same time, the exhibition gave an interesting insight into the relationship between Denmark and China in the second half of the 1800s. This was a reciprocal exhibition to “China in Denmark 1600-2000”, presented by the Museum of National History at Prince Gong’s Palace Museum in Beijing a few years previously.

James Hague's portrait "Iben" which received the 1st prize in the portrait competition in 2013

Portraiture has always featured prominently in the collections at the Museum of National History. In 2007, the museum established the J.C. Jacobsen Portrait Prize, which since 2012 has taken the form of an annual international portrait competition, with leading Russian and Chinese artists among the entrants (http://portrait-award.com/).



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