Cisternerne: Copenhagen’s Museum of Modern Glass Art

On our last day in Denmark, Alex and I split up for a few hours to pursue a few individual interests. I won’t give you any guesses as to how he spent his time, but you might not know that I have a strong interest in glass; so I was excited to learn about the Cisternerne, which is a museum of modern glass art.

Although the entrance fee seems high at 50 Danish Kroner, that’s just about £6, so  I figured even if it wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, I wasn’t out too much money. Luckily for me it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. In fact, I think I enjoyed the ambience more than the art (with a few exceptions!)

As you can probably guess from the name, the Cisternerne is located in an old water cistern. It’s essentially a huge cavern underground, and from the surface you would have no idea it’s down below. The entire space of this field represents the open area underneath.

When we approached the location on the map, near Søndermarken Park, I was a little confused because I didn’t see any buildings, just a large field and a circular, manmade pond (I can’t think of the right word to describe it right now!).   In the distance I could make out two triangular glass buildings, and as Alex headed off to his trains, I made my way along a lovely route to the entrance.

Once you enter the triangular glass buildings (which kind of reminded me of the capsule in which Superman was saved from the destruction of his home planet and traveled to Earth), you go down a very long and steep staircase into darkness.  You can immediately feel that the air is moist, and when you stop at the bottom you’re standing in a centimeter or two of water. No one warned me about that!

There is very minimal lighting down there, which seems odd for a museum of glass. But then I realized that they weren’t joking when they said “modern” glass – because it was very cutting edge. There were quiet a few pieces I didn’t like, but the presentation alone was worth it.

The space was quite large (the website says it is 1400 meters square). There were arches and columns throughout, which made it hard do figure out where you were or what was around you. There were only a few lights, mostly mounted to shine from behind onto the glass, or as a spotlight down on a particular piece. There were also a lot of candles scattered around, in nooks and crannies and chandeliers. I mentioned the water, but I didn’t tell you that I had a hole in the botom of my shoe, and my sock got totally wet.

Some of the pieces can only be described as sculptures made out of glass – they were three dimensional, and most were opaque. If I didn’t know, I would have said it was pottery. But other pieces were more traditional stained glass, with very modern designs and colors. I liked these ones the best.

In the far section of the space was a series of carved people, life-sized.It was quite spooky being in that space, all alone (because no one else was visiting as far as  I could tell), with a room full of carved people. These were obviously not made of out of glass, but I couldn’t tell you what th material was.

There were maybe 100 of these figures, and all were dressed in historical clothing and were clearly identifiable as certain characters: a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, etc. I don’t know if they were all Danish, or came from all over the world, or what. I really wish they had more information down there!

I spent maybe 40 minutes in total at the Cisternerne, and I took quite a few photos although very few of them have turned out because of the lack of light.  I would definitely recommend this for a scary Halloween experience, but unless you really love modern art, it might be best to stay up in the sunshine.

This image (above) was my least-favorite in the whole exhibition. I think it’s a group of dogs fighting, snarling, and attacking each other. It’s an amazing technical composition, I’m sure, but it gave me the creeps. But then again, who says that good art has make you feel good?

This image (above) was my favorite. I would buy this if I could. I did manage to find out that it by an artist name Lise Malinovsky, who was born in 1957.  I just love the colors and shapes … I wish I could hang it in my house!

Posted on 25/08/2011, in travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 75 Comments.

  1. Love the glass. I have to agree the dogfight is disturbing.

  2. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Very nice. And thanks for sharing your least favorite as well as your favorite. Great perspective.


  4. STUNNING work!

    Though I’m totally curious about how your counterpart spent his time…


  5. I wasn’t aware of this museum. I was in Copenagen for 5 days last summer and enjoyed it. I was spending abit too much time at the retrofitted exhibits at the National Museum on Viking history. (Yes, there is some stuff in my blog.)

  6. beautiful pictures, the art is just amazing.. 🙂

  7. I LOVE modern art and this is so cool!!

  8. Absolutely breathtaking.
    Great post!

  9. Well, I’m sorry that your socks got wet, but I’m SO grateful that you stayed down there and took all of these photos! They’re amazing!

  10. this is amazing! i didn’t even know it existed, but now i’m inspired to visit myself. thanks for sharing!

  11. Great pictures of some really interesting pieces.

  12. wow… so wonderfully strange!!

  13. The angel in the picture with the statues of people looks like a Weeping Angel from Dr. Who….are you sure you’re still in your proper era? just saying…

  14. Really,very nice pics,Thx for sharing it………you did a fine job!!

  15. thanks for sharing – these photos are great

  16. nice pics! its like all of them have mystery behind it all!!! keep it up!! ;p

  17. If I ever make it to Copenagen, the Cisternerne will definitely be on my list of places to check out! Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Great pics and so abstact. Love it

    Arjun Kay

  19. Great pictures! Amazing art, i like them. Thanks for sharing!

  20. THis makes me want to go back to Copenhagen. I completely missed this wonderful place.

  21. Thanks for sharing about something so captivating.

  22. Thanks for this! I love glass and with your blogpost I have another reason to visit Denmark again

  23. meerachandra

    That dogs are really creepy….

  24. Thanks for the pics, this is definitely an interesting museum.

  25. Thanks for sharing, I’ve always loved glass as an art medium as the effort that goes into something like that is incredible. Great photos and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  26. nice pictures. congrats on freshly pressed 🙂

  27. elizabethweaver

    beautiful…thank you

  28. Lovely photos of a beautiful place!

    The sandstone sculptures are 17th century. The Slots- og Ejendomsstyrelsen (Palaces and Properties) places them in various spaces on the World Heritage route. I think I remember that these were from Kronberg castle.

    I also loved the pictures of Nyhavn. That’s where I stay when I visit, and your pictures brought back very pleasant memories. So glad your blog was Freshly Pressed!

  29. what an amazing space for the display of the glass…beautiful!

  30. What an extraordinary space to have discovered. i am entranced. c

  31. The place is magnificent, the ambiance with the works of glass is amazing.
    Congrats for being Freshly Pressed.

  32. I’ve always wanted to go to Copenhagen! And by always I mean since I saw it on Oprah as one of the happiest places on earth.

  33. Fantastic setting for viewing art, especially the highly colored pieces. The contrast is show stopping!

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  34. Thank you for posting these pics. It looks like an amazing place- I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before. I will forward it to my brother, who is a glass artist. Thanks again!

  35. nice pictures. like it

  36. Thanks for the photos, certainly an interesting space to explore! I enjoyed reading what you thought about the art.

  37. stefan19770621


  38. wow,, so beautiful strange. very nice pictures and i love it

  39. It is a strange place. I would not want to go in. I also like the idea of the last picture, though reminiscent of Christmas wrapping paper.

    Very often in modern art galleries the showrooms are more impressive than the art. The wrapper is more important than the content. And sometimes there is only a wrapper, nothing inside!

  40. What a fantastic place. It looks like the undercroft of a cathedral. Extraordinary. Thanks for the great shots.

  41. Thank you for sharing a beautiful (wet but interesting) experience. My husband and I loved the art and the stained glass pieces. It was also an interesting location to house art pieces. 🙂

  42. Thanks for letting others participate in your visit. You are a very good photo blogger. Copenhagen has many wonderful and esoteric venues from the well-known such as Louisiana to the more eclectic such as what you found. There is fodder there for many more visits to come, I hope.

    • We LOVED the Louisiana! That’s a whole separate blog post still to come. It was perhaps my favorite museum ever. Thanks for commenting!

  43. This looks like n extraordinary, out of the beaten track find. I really like and admire the dog fight sculpture you find disturbing – there’s something very expressive about it.

  44. An excellent presentation of sights I might not see. What excellent compositions! Museum quality photos of museum qualities. Bouquets of thank yous. Ali

  45. shesavestheworld

    I lived here for four months and never made it to the Cisternerne- Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously through your post. 🙂

  46. walt gilbrecht

    I like the idea

  47. Your outdoor images are lovely, especially the tree tunnel walkway. Just about every time I’m in Copenhagen its the dead of winter and quite a bit gloomier! 🙂

  48. Loved the tour, and the dogs are definitely disturbing.

  49. You can never underestimate the power of ambiance to influence how you enjoy the experience of art. These are great photos and you managed to capture that ambiance. Well done on the fp

  50. Beautiful art pieces! Many thanks to the author for taking the time to share this blog!

  51. The place does look eerie, especially when you’re all alone. With the lack of lighting and the disturbing pieces, it’s really creepy. It seems to have that feel of a dark alley in a cold winter night – perfect setting for a horror film? The art does, however, seem pretty, but the setting seriously needs to be less dramatic and scary. Unless that’s also an art in itself.

  52. Your outdoor images are lovely, especially the tree tunnel walkway. Just about every time I’m in Copenhagen its the dead of winter and quite a bit gloomier!

  53. I’m kind of jealous with you because you were in Copenhagen! How I wish I could be there!
    An amazing museum for sure!

  54. Very beautiful photos and interestig content!

  55. Thank you for sharing – I live in Copenhagen, and had actually forgotten about this place, so it was a good reminder for an interesting and different outing.

  56. I really like these images.. 🙂 so attractive..

  57. Susan Friesen

    I truly enjoyed these photos, haven’t been to Europe yet, but hope I do. If so, I’d love to visit this museum and see the glass art. I’ve seen a glass art exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.

  58. This was interesting and informative.

  59. Cool. I never heard of a glass museum before. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  60. Yeah the dog composition is dark but thanks for showing us the rest. I also love glass.

  61. What an extraordinary, eccentric museum! I also appreciate your posting of faves and less-faves. Thank you!

  62. treithioblog

    fab pics!! one to add to the travel wishlist i think! 🙂 xx

  63. Ooo that’s so awesome. Def on my bucket list of museums to visit!

  64. sounds like a nice way to spend a few hours, aside from the wet socks. ; )

  65. professional 😉

  66. Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
    tell you I truly enjoy reading through your blog posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover
    the same topics? Thanks a ton!

  1. Pingback: Cisternerne – Muzeul Artei Sticlei Moderne din Copenhaga « COLIAS@MUSEO

  2. Pingback: glass treasure underground « Rowanberry Studio

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s