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Danish Cultural Institute was founded 27th June 1940 by an assembly of prominent Danish cultural personalities, businessmen and researchers. The self-governing organization was established on the initiative of a young Slavic philologist, Folmer Wisti, who was later appointed the director of the Institute.


The founding shortly after the occupation of Denmark during World War II was a response to the political climate that preceded the war. With the new institute, the founders wished to inform about the Danish society, culture and popular education abroad and bring inspiration and knowledge from abroad to Denmark. This was to happen through dialogue and mutual understanding.

In the years after the war, offices of Danish Cultural Institute opened in Birmingham, Glasgow, and Zürich, and subsequently in Europe’s biggest cities, among them the institute for the Benelux countries that was established in Brussels in 1950.


Through the years, Danish Cultural Institute has worked to make connections and exchanges through arts and culture, in the early years with a strong emphasis on language teaching.


By the 21st century, Danish Cultural Institute has become a global organisation with the opening of the institute in St. Petersburg in 2003, in Beijing in 2005 and in Rio de Janeiro in 2008.