Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Ghost Swastikas – Copenhagen, Denmark - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Copenhagen, Denmark

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Ghost Swastikas

The art museum is decorated with creatively remodeled pre-Nazi swastikas. 

There is certainly not a lack of swastikas at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum in Copenhagen. The cast iron fence posts in the garden sports several symbols, and you will find them inside the building, too. But there are not as many as there used to be.

A large mosaic of swastikas was removed from the building around the late 1930s, after members of the Nazi party tended to gather there and salute the symbol. If you walk around the museum today, you will find odd, geometric ornaments flanking the windows. These were once swastikas but were re-chiseled into a series of geometric shapes to avoid the Nazi gatherings.

The depictions of the swastika, an ancient icon historically used as a symbol of good luck, were actually incorporated into the museum nearly 40 years before the Nazis appropriated the design and ran it through their notoriously efficient propaganda machine. 

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum was built to house the extensive art collection of Carl Jacobsen, which he gifted to the public in 1888. Jacobsen was the son of the founder of the Carlsberg brewery, J. C. Jacobsen, who named the brewery after his son. Carl’s relationship with his father was strained, so when he entered the beer brewing business as a young man in 1882, he named his brewery “New Carlsberg,” in part to spite his old man. The passionate art collector also adopted a swastika as his signature logo, and this trademark was incorporated throughout the art museum that bears his name.

If you walk around the back of the building to the museum garden, you will find windows still featuring the original swastika design. The symbols here were kept in tact, possibly because no one would have noticed Nazis saluting behind the building.

Know Before You Go

Be sure to check out the Nasothek inside the museum.