The Royal Library

Where architecture, meets design, meets photography. The National Museum of Photography in Denmark is a well-kept secret inside an architectural landmark.

     ︎ Given my background in architecture, I was delighted to visit Copenhagen for the first time in late 2019. I knew that the city was the home to some of the most iconic contemporary buildings and master design pieces.

But during my visit, I came across even more than I was expecting. Whilst searching for photographic exhibitions, I discovered that Denmark is one of only a few countries in the world that has created a National Museum of Photography, showing the Danish people’s appreciation for photography.

Situated in the heart of the city, The National Museum of Photography lies within the Royal Library, better known as the "Black Diamond", an extraordinary-looking building designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, finished in 1999.

The National Museum of Photography collection contains about 50,000 works, divided into Danish photography, foreign photography and several unusual collections. Their vaults contain photographs by such iconic names as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, August Sander, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Richard Avedon, Duane Michals, Martin Parr, Nan Goldin, Hiroshi Sugimoto or Andreas Gursky, amongst others. Impressive, isnt it?

It is also the home of the largest collection of daguerreotypes in Scandinavia. (A daguerrotype is a pioneering form of early photography)

The museum has a constantly changing roster of temporary exhibitions. During my visit, I was delighted by “Finding Beauty”, a retrospective exhibition of the pioneer of Danish Art Photography, Keld Helmer-Petersen.

Described as “the best photographer you have never heard of” by the British magazine Creative Review in 2007, Keld Helmer-Petersen considered the camera an artistic tool. He explored the limits of photography aesthetics: their graphic qualities, lines, forms and colours.

Next time you visit Copenhagen, don't miss the opportunity of paying a visit to this temple of photography.