The Library, which has been an independent national institution since 1996, was originally part of Det kgl. Danske Kunstakademi (The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts). When the Kunststakademi was founded in 1754, the Library was given rooms in Charlottenborg Palace, which, since that time, has been the old main address of the Akademi.
In 1883 the Library moved into a side wing s in the Charlottenborg Exhibition Building and here it has gradually expanded so that it currently fills more than half the basement. In the year 2000 – 2011, the Library returned to Charlottenborg itself, as the Collection of Architectural Drawings and the Art-Historical Picture Archive were housed in the south wing of the Palace, while all the actual library functions continued to be confined to the Exhibition Building. From 2011 things have moved out again (see section: The Study Room and secure storage in Søborg).
Charlottenborg is a major monument in the Early Danish Baroque style. The Palace was erected as a part of absolutism’s grandly planned expansion of the king’s city of residence around Kongens Nytorv (The King’s New Market) and Nyhavn (The New Harbour). The man who commissioned the work was Christian V’s half-brother, Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve. The extensive building, originally of three wings, was built in the years 1672-1677. Along the Palace’s central axis, on the marketplace directly in front of its facade the equestrian statue of the absolute monarch forms the unifying point.
Originally the palace courtyard opened onto a spacious garden which stretched down the whole length of Nyhavn. In 1683 the perimeter of the building was closed with a lower, fourth wing of two storeys. In the central, vaulted pavilion, the cupola room with is magnificent stucco ceiling is a well-preserved example of Early Danish Baroque interior.
The south wing’s so-called “Italian Stairs” is the earliest preserved example of a monumental interior staircase.
Charlottenborg Exhibition Building
Charlottenborg Exhibition Building was built in 1883 by the two historicist architects, Albert Jensen and Ferdinand Meldahl. The structure is situated in the former Botanical Garden immediately behind Charlottenborg. It is oriented along the Palace’s central axis from the originally closed courtyard room of which there once opened in the loggia under the cupola room another loggia with an unobstructed view out towards the main gateway of the Exhibition Building.
In one side wing, a typical 19th century library room was created which is, without doubt the only example in Denmark which continues to be used by the institution for which it was built. In the remaining ground-floor space of the Exhibition Building the Academy’s cast collection was exhibited. From around 1904 the ground floor was divided up for a variety of purposes. The Renaissance-inspired exhibition hall with the multi-coloured tiled floor and the characteristic, doubled triumphal arch motif was thus divided, the arches bricked up and the light excluded. During rebuilding in 2004 the central hall was returned to its beautiful original state.
The walls have regained their original ochre colour, the floor has been restored and the light now streams in through the reopened arches. The re-established central hall now functions as the Library’s lending section, lounge, work places and closed stacks; and from here there is once again direct access to the old reading room (see illustration), which has not been disturbed by the rebuilding, but by a sensitive refurnishing is restored to its original appearance.
The Study Room and secure storage in Søborg
In 2011 the Study Room – Danish Architecture was moved to new rooms in Søborg, at Transformervej 21 B, which is a handicap-friendly place to visit, open twice a week. As the Study Room is immediately adjacent to the Library’s secure storage, seeing materiale is alot easier than before.