History

From Church to Contemporary Art Centre

St. Nikolaj Church originated in the early 1200s and is Copenhagen’s third oldest church. As a consequence of the Great Fire of Copenhagen in 1795, the building’s history as a church came to an end in 1805. Since then it has had numerous different functions including, being a fire station, a naval museum and a public library.

In 1957 the art pioneer Knud Pedersen founded an art library in the building where works of art could be borrowed. The building has played a key role for contemporary art in Copenhagen ever since. Throughout the 1960s it was the site of a series of major avant-garde manifestations, including some of the first international Fluxus happenings in 1962.

In the 1970s the Danish Visual Artists Union was affiliated with the building.

In 1981 the building became Copenhagen City Council’s official exhibition space.

Since the mid 1990s Nikolaj Kunsthal has developed a strong profile focussing on innovative and experimental contemporary art.

You can read more about the history of the building here.