SMK: The Danish National Gallery Bringing Art Back Down to Earth

Exhibition Review

by Kitty Atherton | 08 November 2020

'Visual culture is often out of touch, and we can find ourselves tangled in wordy-over analysis that adds little insight or understanding. Making art approachable is refreshing.'

In the winter of 2019, a time so far removed from the confines of Covid-19, Copenhagen welcomed an eager Art History student to be. Wanting to somewhat ‘transform’ herself into a smart-casual-styled, nonchalant Danish girl, she decidedly took to the streets in search of a cultural awakening.

I had planned to visit a few of the galleries in the city, and the national gallery seemed a good start. I had my preconception of what to expect from the capital’s main collective of artwork, likely endless rooms of patriotic expression, projecting me into the realm of the disconnected observer. Yet, when I entered the ‘Statens Museum for Kunst’, the gallery had put in place an initiative to communicate and translate artwork to modern society, prompting me to rethink the assumptions I had held prior to entering. The slogan of a 'museum for everyone' truly fulfilled its intention, particularly in the headline exhibition 'The Danish Golden Age'.

The entrance to the gallery was undoubtedly picturesque; the Italian Renaissance revival front was accompanied by an extensive courtyard, decorated with