A green oasis in the heart of Copenhagen
Like a green oasis in the city, the museum garden is located at the very centre of the museum. It is open to the public during opening hours – no admission ticket necessary. The garden forms the setting for exhibitions, events, and the museum cafe has outdoor seating here where visitors can enjoy lunch, iced coffee, and cake in the sun or sheltered by large white parasols. The museum garden is a peaceful, secluded haven removed from the noise of the city, offering a break in the open.
The history of the garden
Since 1926, Designmuseum Danmark has occupied what was formerly Det Kongelige Frederiks Hospital (The Royal Frederik’s Hospital) – built by the architects Nicolai Eigtved and Lauritz de Thurah during the period 1752–57. The old, elegant hospital complex consists of low buildings placed around the central quadrangular museum garden.
In Nicolai Eigtved’s original hospital design, the garden had been planned as a vegetable garden providing freshly grown potatoes and carrots. However, from the very beginning, the garden was used as a recreational area for the patients, since light and air in natural surroundings was believed to aid the healing of the sick. The garden was divided by a long transverse wall separating male and female patients.
The fine linden tree avenues were planted shortly after the hospital was completed and the trees are thus around two hundred and fifty years old. Over the years, the garden has undergone a number of changes. The present-day layout is the work of the landscape architect G. N. Brandt, who made numerous changes when the building was converted into a museum in the 1920s. Brandt introduced narrow cobbled paths between the rows of linden trees and placed sculptures among the trees to break their uniformity.
The sculptures in the garden
The garden includes a collection of sculptures dating from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, placed there after the building was refurbished and converted into a museum in 1926. The collection includes Lorenz Frølichs’s Dueslag (Dovecot) (ca 1878), Niels Skovgaard’s Havhestebrønd (The Havhest Well) (1912–16), Kai Nielsen’s portrait of Thorvald Bindesbøll (1910), Einar Utzon-Frank’s memorial to Emil Hannover (1926), and the museum’s most recent acquisition Legekammeraterne (The Playmates) (2020) by Anne Brandhøj.
The figural group Legekammeraterne comprises three ingenious wooden sculptures, each with a characteristic mood and character. The figures are created specifically for the museum garden by the Danish furniture designer Anne Brandhøj in response to her receiving the grant Sølvsmed Kay Bojesen og Hustru Erna Bojesens Mindelegat. The figures encourage play and are inspired by the designer Kay Bojesen’s mode of expression and choice of materials.
The museum garden also functions as an extension of the museum café Format. From the cafe’s stylish interior, you walk directly out on to a cobbled patio with plenty of iconic, blue X-line chairs designed by Niels-Jørgen Haugesen in 1977. Enjoy the cafe menu in the sun or in the shade as you please. You are welcome to visit Format – with or without an admission ticket.