The start of the next day could have been better. Our intent was to visit the National Art Museum, and we
studied our map to figure out which bus or buses would get us there the quickest. We found a route that headed
northward, parallel to the shoreline and in the direction of Amalienborg, but turned left and inland before
getting there, with an apparent stop near the museum. We boarded this bus and headed north, but at the point
where it was supposed to turn left, it went straight instead. Continuing northward, we passed between
Amalienborg and the Marble Church, and continued straight. Totally confused, we thought there might be
something wrong with the expected route (like maybe road construction), and that maybe the bus was going to
turn left later instead. The bus eventually did turn, but it turned right, which had us headed in the opposite
of our desired direction. We hit the stop button and got off at the next bus stop to reconnoiter.
The street we were on, as it turned out, was a viable alternate route to the museum, but only if the bus had
turned left instead of right. We scratched our heads and moved across the street, hoping that the next bus
headed in the opposite direction would take the alternate route to the museum. We waited a few minutes and
eventually thought to look at this alternate route. We immediately noticed two unobtrusive wooden barricades
which were blocking both of the lanes of the alternate route. Then we looked for the scale of miles on the
map and calculated that the museum was less than a mile away along this alternate route. Deciding that the
hypothetical bus would be reluctant to run over the barricades, we struck out for the museum on foot.
Beyond the barricades the street was eerily deserted. There were no cars, and no examples of human life
besides ourselves. Eventually we noticed a prominent, temporary-looking sign at the curbside that said simply
"6 km". After an additional hundred yards or so a light bulb went on in our heads, and we unveiled a theory
to each other that some sort of long-distance (or at least 6 km) footrace was about to take place along this
route. This would explain the absence of cars (and buses). It didn’t explain the absence of people, but
maybe this sort of thing isn’t much of a spectator sport in Denmark. Our theory would have to be put to the
test later, though, as we shortly reached the museum.
Approaching the Museum
Bob and Nella and Entrance
On entering the museum (known locally as the Statens Museum for Kunst),
we were to find access to a collection of beautiful artistic creations, a collection begun centuries earlier by the
Danish royal family. And also access to our second disappointment of the morning: the museum is split into two
principal divisions, one for the older masterpieces, and another for the newer ones, and for reasons we didn’t quite
understand, the older section was closed. However, we didn’t notice any reduction in the entrance fee, and under
other circumstances we may have left in a huff, grumbling about being charged full price for half a museum. But
entry to the museum was already included in our Copenhagen Cards, so the net result was that we wouldn’t see some
things we would like to have seen, but we also wouldn’t spend as much time in the museum as we otherwise might,
giving us more time to go do something else. So we stayed for a while and looked at the half-museum that was open.
In this half of the museum we weren’t to see anything older than the middle of the 19th Century. Included in the
collection were some works by artists from other countries, some of whom were familiar to us.
Trees at l'Estaque, Georges Braque (1908)
Still Life with Door, Guitar and Bottles, Pablo Picasso (1916)
Le Luxe II, Henri Matisse (1907-08)
Interior with a Violin, Henri Matisse (1918)
Also included were works by Danish artists (actually, rather a lot of works by Danish artists), none of whose names
rang any bells with us (perhaps Danish artists had been unjustly neglected in most of the other museums we’d
visited). We found many of the works to be attractive and/or otherwise interesting.
In a Roman Osteria, Carl Bloch (1866)
At a Kitchen Table, Carl Bloch (1878)
Queen Christina in Palazzo Corsini, Kristian Zahrtmann (1908)
A Field of Waving Rye, Peter Hansen (1894)
There were also a few works whose sources or subjects we weren’t able to immediately record (they were no doubt
posted, but we figured incorrectly that we’d be able to look them up later).
Jabba the Hut?
We left the museum and immediately found confirmation of the theory we’d formulated earlier, as people wearing
numbers were running past us on the streets that had been purged of motor vehicles.
People with Numbers
We threaded our way through a gap in the steady stream of runners and headed toward the waterfront, in
search of lunch. We passed through Amalienborg and turned right, keeping an eye out for anything
appetizing. We eventually found some food places, but they were fabulously expensive, even by Copenhagen
standards. This is because we were approaching the Nyhavn area, which is a mecca for tourists (more on
this place later). But among the pricey establishments and the vendors of souvenirs, we found carts that
were selling less expensive fare, such as sausages and pizza.
We filled up and headed back toward Amalienborg. We were interested in visiting a Medical History Museum
we’d seen from the bus earlier, located a little to the north of Amalienborg. This museum, called the
Medical Museion, is also a research unit of the
University of Copenhagen, and was founded in 1907. Part of it occupies the former Royal Academy of
Surgeons, and includes the operating theater that was commonly used for instructional dissections (often
of condemned criminals, fresh from the gallows) in the early 19th Century. The museum is best seen
through a guided tour – tours are given on a regular schedule, and are occasionally in English. We were
lucky enough to join such a tour, but had to leave most of our belongings in a locker for its
duration (lest we try to smuggle out a bone saw or something, I guess). Our tour guide was a friendly and
knowledgeable young woman who told us a great deal about the facility and showed us many of the locations
and frightening-looking instruments that were once used for treatments there. We weren’t able to get
much in the way of photos until the end of the tour.
Scale and Medications
Medications and Carrying Case
Medications and Instruments
Also at the end of the tour was a comical display of many useful medicines, several of which looked like
they could save their users a great deal of time and money.
After the tour we talked with our tour guide for several minutes – she was very interested in things American,
and we learned much about living in Copenhagen at the same time. Among other things, we learned why bicycles
and public transit are in such common use by the natives. It seems taxes on automobile ownership are extremely
high, sometimes exceeding the cost of the car itself. This makes the case for alternatives very persuasive.
We eventually took our leave of the young lady and headed back towards Nyhavn. Earlier we had noted that Nyhavn
is a common departure point for boat tours of the harbor, and such a tour seemed like it would be both fun and
educational. As the crowd levels and the prices on the restaurant menus went up, we knew we were getting closer,
and finally we arrived at the canal that was our destination.