Copenhagen – Det Kongelige Bibliotek

After arriving in Copenhagen at 6.00 am this morning we thought it was absolutely necessary to start our trip with a danish and a visit to Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library). Nicknamed “The Black Diamond”, this library is a beautifully designed space seamlessly combining the old and the new. The old section of the library was completed in 1906. An extension was added in 1999 consisting of black marble and glass, hence the nickname. It is believed to hold every book published in Denmark dating back to 1482. Currently there is a small exhibition on treasures from The Royal Library where many of the earliest books are on display.

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We spent some time inside the library sheltering from the rain. Personally, I was very excited to see the North Reading Room. I had heard it resembled something out of Hogwarts. So we went searching for a place where I could project my inner Hufflepuff. Before seeing the room in its entirety, your first taste comes from what you can see through glass inserts in a wooden door. What immediately captured my attention were green lamps lining wooden tables in the middle of the room. Surrounding these tables, against the walls, were bookshelves holding what appeared to be a wide variety of texts.

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There is something so special about a well-designed library. I have often seen The Royal Library, and this North Reading Room in particular, appear on ‘top 20 library’ lists. This is not only because it has such a wonderful old reading room, but also, its contemporary sections were just as enticing.

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My favourite part of the new building was the escalator from the ground to the first floor. At the top of the escalator is a massive mural by painter Per Kirkeby. It works really well within the space and adds a lovely touch of colour. Travelling in the opposite direction, a large glass wall allows you to see outside to the harbour and buildings on the water’s edge.

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There were a few exhibitions dotted around the library. The vast majority did not have English labels. Thankfully, we live in the digital age so I was able to use ‘trustworthy’ Google Translate. One exhibition was on the fan letters written to director and actor Ebbe Langberg. I know absolutely nothing about Langberg, but, the exhibition was eye-catching. Displayed in front of a large black and white photography of Langberg and a fan were a dozen or so handwritten fan letters. I thought that the letters were very effectively displayed in the case. The labels on the top shelf were slightly difficult to read. Otherwise, it was a fun display. Even without translating the labels I could appreciate the exhibition layout and design elements.

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We really enjoyed our afternoon exploring the library. I hope to have a good rest tonight so I can enjoy some more cultural sites tomorrow!

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