The Carlsberg Foundation’s home

The Carlsberg Foundation’s home in Copenhagen was built in the period 1894-1899 in the Italian High Renaissance style.

Since 24 March 1899, the Carlsberg Foundation and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters have had their home in a mansion built and owned by the Carlsberg Foundation at H.C. Andersens Boulevard 35 in Copenhagen.

The Carlsberg Foundation’s secretariat is located on the ground floor, where you will also find the office of the Carlsberg Foundation’s Chairman of the Board, boardrooms and meeting rooms.

On the first floor is the Old Meeting Room, which is reserved for the Academy’s meetings. The first floor also has classrooms for the Academy’s two classes (the science class and the humanities class), a library and rooms for researchers.

On the second floor, the Academy has its secretariat, offices and archives, as well as offices for the President, the General Secretary and the Editor.

On the third floor of the building is the lecture hall, which is also used for receptions and other gatherings.

The need for a building

When Brewer J.C. Jacobsen founded the Carlsberg Foundation in 1876, he linked it with the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The Brewer wanted the Foundation to one day provide the Academy with a home. To that end, he stated in his deed of gift to the Carlsberg Foundation that the Foundation was to erect a building sufficiently large that it also could house the Academy free of charge.

At that time, neither the Foundation nor the Academy had any actual offices; the various administrative functions were scattered all over Copenhagen, and the Board members took turns hosting meetings.

When the Academy celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1892, the Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Edvard Holm, proposed in his speech that the Brewer’s wish for a home that could also house the Academy should be fulfilled.

Following the fire at Christiansborg Palace in 1884, the Academy’s former offices and archives had been moved. The Academy’s meetings continued to be held at the Prince’s Mansion, but in 1891 the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education gave notice to terminate the arrangement, leaving the Academy with no permanent offices, archives or meeting rooms.

Edvard Holm had a keen interest in research into Antiquity and wanted a building in a Renaissance or Antique style. The building should be large enough to house the Foundation’s Board, a bursary, a brewery office and a residence for the Chairman. The Academy should be provided with a meeting room, classrooms, offices and a cloakroom.

The Carlsberg Foundation’s home, 1900.

At an early stage, the Carlsberg Foundation took on professor and building inspector Vilhelm Petersen as the architect for the project. Petersen, who had undertaken lengthy study trips to Italy in the 1860s and mastered the classical idiom, helped choose the undeveloped plot of land opposite the Glyptotek in Copenhagen, with the address H.C. Andersen’s Boulevard 35, as the site for the Foundation's new home. After a five-year construction period, the Academy held its first meeting in the new building on 24 March 1899, attended by King Christian IX.

In 1976, the Carlsberg Foundation's 100th anniversary, the building was enlarged with a lecture hall on the third floor in the former attic and a book depository for use by the Academy. The latest major renovation work took place in 2009, when a new copper roof was installed. The building is regularly refurbished and decorated with works of art.

The artwork of the building

As was common at the time with edifices of this type, the building is richly decorated in the Classical style both outside and inside. The idea was, on the basis of science, to draw on history while at the same time matching up with the style in which mansions were being built in the late 1800s. In particular, the inside of the building is decorated with works of art from older great artists as well as more contemporary artists. A wide range of paintings have been commissioned by the Carlsberg Foundation or donated by museums, foundations and institutions. Among the most notable works of art are Peter Severin Krøyer’s painting A Meeting of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (1897) and Erik A. Frandsen’s picture mosaic from 2011.

The two works of art, which can be seen among the images below, contrast with one another in many ways: hung in the Old Meeting Room, Krøyer’s painting brings to the fore serious and scholarly scientists. Frandsen’s picture mosaic, which adorns the more recent lecture hall on the third floor, depicts modern western people thriving in a relaxed and sprawling park environment ‒ thanks in part to science.

The Old Meeting Room on the first floor. The room is arranged so that members of the Royal Danish Academy’s two classes ‒ Science and Humanities ‒ sit on opposite sides. Note P.S. Krøyer’s painting on the back wall.

P.S. Krøyer’s painting, the monumental group portrait A Meeting of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (1897), which can be seen today in the Old Meeting Room on the first floor

The choice of decoration for the ceiling in the Old Meeting Room on the first floor caused the Carlsberg Foundation’s Board a lot of anguish. Only in 1925, 26 years after the building was opened, did they agree on Kræsten Iversen’s image from the Tales of Prometheus as one of the strongest symbols of the scientific quest.

The New Meeting Room on the third floor. Note Erik A. Frandsen’s picture mosaic on the wall to the right.

On the occasion of Brewer J.C. Jacobsen’s 200th birthday, 2 September 2011, the New Carlsberg Foundation gifted a 4x6-metre picture mosaic by Erik A. Frandsen to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The mosaic hangs on the wall of the New Meeting Room on the third floor.