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

Today, The Carlsberg Foundation’s secretariat, along with the Chairman’s office, boardrooms and meeting rooms are on the ground floor.

On the first floor, a large meeting hall is reserved for the meetings of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The first floor also contains classrooms for the two classes (the science class and the humanities class), a library, and research rooms.

On the second floor, the Academy has a secretariat, offices and archives, and the Academy’s president, general secretary and editor also have offices here.

The 3rd floor contains a meeting hall and is also used for receptions and other gatherings.

The need for a building

Brewer J.C. Jacobsen established the Carlsberg Foundation in 1876. Before his death on April 30, 1887, he had stated that it would be desirable if the foundation should be able to provide the Academy with a permanent home.

Neither the Foundation nor the Academy had actual premises at that time, the administrative functions were scattered all around Copenhagen, and Foundation meetings were held in board members’ private homes.

At the 150th anniversary of the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters in 1892, the then chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Edvard Holm, put forward in his speech at the Academy, that the Foundation should meet J.C. Jacobsen's wish to erect a building for the Carlsberg Foundation, where, at the same, it would be possible to offer suitable premises for the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters.

To put things into context, the fire at Christiansborg Palace in 1884 had caused the Academy’s former offices and archives to be 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.

The Carlsberg Foundation chairman at the time, Professor Edvard Holm, was interested in antiquity research and preferred a building that was either “Renaissance” or “Antique”. The building should be large enough to house the Foundation Board, a treasurer, a brewery office, and a residence for the Chairman. The Academy should be provided with a meeting room, classrooms, offices and a wardrobe.

The Carlsberg Foundation’s home, 1900.

At an early stage, the Carlsberg Foundation took on professor and building inspector Vilhelm Petersen as architect for the project. Vilhelm Petersen had made lengthy study trips to Italy in the 1860s and mastered the classical design language. He assisted in choosing the undeveloped plot of land opposite the Glyptotek in Copenhagen, with the address Vestre Boulevard 35 (today H.C. Andersens Boulevard 35) as the site for the construction of the new domicile. After a 5-year construction period, the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences and Letters was able to have its first meeting in the building on March 24, 1899, with the presence of, i.a., its patron, King Christian IX.

At the Foundation's 100th anniversary in 1976, the Carlsberg Foundation expanded the building with a meeting hall and a book storage on the 3rd floor in the former attic room to be used by the Academy. The most recent major renovation of the house took place in 2009, when a new copper roof was laid. The house is constantly being renovated and decorated with works of art, often deposited by the New Carlsberg Foundation.

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.