Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek's famous living room
Bakkehuset is a historic house museum focusing on literature and culture from the Danish Golden Age.
In the first decades of the 19th century Bakkehuset resonated with conversations of the married couple Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek and their illustrious guests. The couple owned the house from 1802 until 1830. In this time they opened their home to the authors, opinion formers and scientists of the age. In the museum you can experience the atmosphere of the Danish Golden Age in the authentically decorated home of the Rahbeks, and among other things, discover the tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
The museum and its surrounding gardens provide an authentic insight into the way of life of the 19th century, its atmosphere and style. During a visit to Bakkehuset one can have a visceral experience of one of the most central periods in Danish cultural history; the period that would become known as the Golden Age. In the Rahbeks’ time the house was a home to luminaries such as Hans Christian Andersen, the poet and playwright Adam Oehlenschläger, the scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, the philosopher and theologian N.S.F. Grundtvig, the linguist and hymnist B. S. Ingemann, the dramatist Johan Ludvig Heiberg and many others. They all contributed in their own way to the home’s unique atmosphere and history.
The museum’s permanent exhibition is a recreation of the home as it was in the Rahbeks’ time with many pieces of furniture that belonged to them and many other personal items that belonged to their distinguished intellectual guests. In addition to the couple's drawing room and conservatory you can experience Knud Lyne Rahbek's study, the couple's kitchen, its cooking range and the museum's library, containing as it does an excellent collection of books. Two rooms in the museum have been set up for families with children, and here you can experience the greatest author of the Golden Age – Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen’s beloved and cherished fairy-tales are interpreted here in a fully immersive way, in a concept we call the “fairy-tale academy”.
The 1st floor of the museum previously housed a residence for writers awarded through a scholarship, but today the visiting public can experience varying exhibitions which focus on art, culture and literature from both the modern era and the past.
Read more about the 1st floor exhibition site here and check our opening hours.
Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek's living room
The Drawing Room becomes the Salon
“This was undeniably the centre of Bakkehuset – this place was more than Rahbek’s study – especially in the later years – It made Bakkehuset itself a literary celebrity”.
So wrote the author, art historian and folklorist Just Mathias Thiele (1795-1874) when describing Bakkehuset's yellow drawing room with its emblematic table, around which the personalities of the Golden Age gathered. Gatherings in this corner-room could develop into fully fledged literary symposia where the guests played with classic texts, juggled with rhyme, verse, form and content. Round the table the participants figuratively manoeuvred, joined in the cut and thrust, and young romantic poets read aloud from their works before they were published. During these meetings, where guests came to discuss, read aloud and critique each other, a fantastically diverse and creative community developed which did not confine its discussions to the arts but also science and the state of society in general.
This corner-room, with its table, was not just used by visitors; it was a practical space where Kamma Rahbek would sit in the course of a day and write her correspondence. She drew, painted and arranged flowers from her garden. It was here that she put together her boxes that in time became famous. Occasionally these materials would have to give way for tea accompanied by sweets, preserves and Christmas biscuits and later a modest meal. Food was the foundation of the community, creating a sense of ease and belonging.
Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek belonged to Copenhagen’s upper class but life in Bakkehuset was relatively modest and without excess. Companionship, friendly teasing and supportive dialogue were instead the defining characteristics of a social gathering in their home. Simplicity was partly a matter of financial necessity, but was also seen as a virtue by the Rahbeks.
Large parts of Danish cultural life took place in people's private homes in the first part of the 19th century and this is one of the many things that one can experience at Bakkehuset today.
Painted portrait of Sophie Ørsted (sister to the poet Adam Oehlesnchläger). Portrait bust of the dancer and muse Ida Brun (made by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen)
Knud Lyne Rahbek's office
The Author’s Office
Knud Lyne Rahbek was a theatre and literary critic, a publisher of periodicals and the author of novels, plays, bawdy drinking songs and non-fiction works. At Bakkehuset you can visit his workshop, the place that was the wellspring of it all. The room still has his original desk and bookcases. When Rahbek actually inhabited the room it was filled with papers and stacks of books. It was a place where creative chaos reigned; Rahbek even had canaries flying freely around the room. Quills, ink and paper were the most important tools of the author and at one time the room would have been dominated by the characteristic scratch of pen on paper. Rahbek was a man of the enlightenment and his lifelong goal was to increase knowledge and learning. Although his works are seldom read today, in his time he was an important arbiter of taste and his role as creator of an intellectual network had a huge influence on the generation of writers that came in his wake.
Portrait gallery in the garden room
One of Kamma Rahbek's boxes with miniature painting in the lid