Since 1935, the old Thingbæk limestone mine has been operating as a museum dedicated to sculpture. This distinctive, unusual exhibition space is beautiful and chilling, lit mostly by candles and kept at a temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. As such, it’s a surprising and charming stop along an older two-lane highway that’s now usually bypassed by travelers who take the nearby (faster) freeway.
The highlights of the mine are the gypsum sculptures created by the late Danish artist Anders Bundgaard, who was the first to place his plaster figures in the caves decades ago, as well as bronze sculptures by another late Danish sculptor, Carl Johan Bonnesen. Many of the imposing pieces displayed in Thingbæk served as early prototypes for massive sculptures that now dot public areas around Denmark, such as Bundgaard’s bronze Cimbrian Bull located in the center of Aalborg, and his Gefion Fountain located on the harbor in Copenhagen.
Another big draw during the coldest months are the bat colonies that overwinter inside the mine museum. There are many hundred counted each year, and there are five species of bats that call the cave home between late autumn and late spring. And during certain holiday seasons, there are also concerts in the mine, as the crisp air and cave wall acoustics offer quite a spectacular experience.
Recent changes are helping to make this place a destination for a younger generation. A new visitor center opened in 2015, and it now tempts the local “witch,” Dannie Druehyld, to occasionally emerge from her home in the surrounding forest to teach crochet workshops or tell kid-friendly mythical stories. (Yes, really.) And up the hill past the mine are several “land art” sculptures in the woods on a loop trail, pieces made from natural materials and now slowly decaying back into nature.
Know Before You Go
Thingbæk Kalkminer (Thingbæk Limestone Mine) is part of the Rebild cultural center located just off Hobrovej (Route 180). It's open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.