The small but dignified Royal Danish Naval Museum contains hundreds of exquisitely detailed wooden model ships, commissioned by or related to the Royal Danish Navy, dating back to the mid-17th century. The building housing the collection originally served as part of the Naval Hospital and is known as the Søkvæsthuset; the museum, which was founded in 1957, has occupied the building since 1989.
These models were not made simply for decorative purposes (although they often served that function as well). They were created by naval architects as demonstration models for prospective clients; they also provided specific instruction for the ship’s builders and craftspeople. Because of this, the level of detail is stunning, from the gilded and carved figureheads down to the full sets of rigging and hardware. Some ships are petite and some are as large as a horse.
Also on display within the museum are several large dioramas of historic maritime battles, uniforms, weapons, art, and various tools and pieces of equipment. In the summertime, visitors may visit three Cold War era decommissioned ships located nearby, including the HDMS Peter Skram, the HDMS Sælen, and the HDMS Sehested. The basement of the Søkvæsthuset contains a thoughtfully designed play area for children containing part of a pirate ship (cannons included) and a miniature dock.
Update 2016: This museum is permanently closed. The collection has been moved to The Royal Danish Arsenal Museum.
Know Before You Go
By Metro, get off at Christianshavn stop and walk three blocks northeast on Overgaden Oven Vandet; the museum will be on your right.