Copenhagen’s ‘Arken’: Damien Hirst and More
Located in the southern suburbs of the Danish capital, the Arken Museum has come a long way since its original opening in 1996. From the beginning the museum was an initiative with the intention to add some cultural flair to the new, culturally diverse and rapidly expanding southern suburbs of the capital.
Arken is some twenty kilometres south of the capital’s centre and in many ways this short distance takes the visitor to a totally different kind of Copenhagen. Thus, the role the museum played – and still plays – in the development of the city should certainly not to be underestimated.
Being an initiative started out from scratch, the founders were convinced about the ambition needed to be an established institution with a worldwide name. Arken soon turned out to be one of the biggest cultural investments in Denmark in the second half of the 20th century and something the city can be very proud of. It was clear from the beginning that being bold with decisions was not an obstacle: the architect who won the design competition for the building was still a student when the decision was made, quite some guts needed to go with an unproven talent’s ideas. Søren Robert Lund‘s museum building is a deconstructivist creation, bold and unique and seemingly a perfect fit into the surrounding seaside area.
From the outset the ambition was to put together an internationally reputable collection and once the project took off, it seems to just carry on with an active acquisition policy. At present the Arken Collection consists of more than 350 works of art, among which some of the most valuable pieces are quite recently acquired. As per the museum’s own ambition, the visual impression of the collection should be “an aesthetic, emotional and intellectual challenge”. The focus of the collection is on contemporary art, with an emphasis on works from 1990 onwards. A big part is reserved for Danish artists, but even Nordic and especially international art takes up an ever bigger role, with works by Ai Weiwei, Anselm Reyle, Olafur Eliasson and many more. But maybe the most important part of it all is the Damien Hirst collection the museum proudly keeps.
Damien Hirst at Arken
As recently as 2011, the museum received a large donation from the London-based ‘Merla Art Foundation‘, founded by the Danish couple Dennis and Jytte Merla Dresing. The donation consisted of eight works of Damien Hirst‘s. The museum already owned a handful of the artist’s paintings and with the new additions suddenly the museum has one of the best Hirst collections in the world. Hirst (born 1965) is, naturally, easily to be considered as one of the biggest names in the contemporary art scene and at Arken the visitor can check out his ‘The Four Elements (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue)’and his biggest ‘spot painting’ (at least until now): ‘2-Amino-5-Bromobenzotrifluoride‘, measuring in at a length of more than 14 metres and 4.5 metres in height.
Arken – For Everyone
An interesting aspect of Arken is the way it surprises the visitors and makes a visit to all age groups memorable. The museum puts special emphasis on making the visit for families special and they create a great interest for children and their parents, to the extent that the young ones barely want to leave the place.
Given its seaside location, right next to Copenhagen’s most popular beach, Arken is also a popular day-trip destination in summertime. The big park outside is a very popular picnic spot.
Sounds like a great way of spending a day. Are you convinced yet?
READ MORE: Curious at what is currently on in the city? Please check out our Copenhagen art exhibition guide.
ARKEN Copenhagen Visitor Details:
2635 Ishøj, Denmark
Phone: 45 4354 0222
Regular Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10h-17h
Mondays closed (although open on public holiday Mondays)
Admission Fees Adults: DKK 95.
Students: DKK 75. (with valid student-ID)
Children (0-17): Free
Groups (min. 10): DKK 80.
Members club: Free
Website: Arken Modern Art Museum (English site)