Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Where Art and Nature Come Together
Not that many people will have heard of the small Danish village of Humlebæk. But it is here where one of Denmark‘s most famous modern art institutions, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, is situated.
The museum is located some 35 kilometers from Copenhagen, a perfect destination to spend some time outside the Danish capital.
We were lucky to arrive there on what must have been one of the first spring days of the year. With the clear, blue sky and bright, warm sun hovering above the museum, we couldn’t have wished for a better time to visit the museum, situated along the shores of the Oresund Strait.
Where to go first
That is also why the temptation to immediately walk into the sculpture garden was big. You could of course, wouldn’t it be for the many different interesting exhibitions to see in the museum. For these it is surely worth to set aside enough time as well.
Apart from the six to eight different exhibitions being organized throughout the year, the museum also houses an ever expanding collection of about 3500 modern art works, covering the period from 1945 up to today.
Because of this the museum’s own collection is only shown in parts during rotating exhibitions. Almost permanently on display though are the art installation Gleaming Lights of the Souls of Yayoi Kusama and a collection of works of Giacometti and the Danish Cobra artist Asger Jorn.
A Bit of History
Interestingly, when opening the museum’s doors in 1958 the founder of the Louisiana museum, Knud W. Jensen, initially meant to focus on exhibiting Danish art only.
After a couple of years the museum changed course though. Instead of only Danish art, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art started to follow the exhibition practices of the MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, covering a broader interpretation of modern art, which also includes architecture, design, photography, film and other genres. The Museum itself added cultural and ethnographic exhibitions to this range. This versatility obviously made the Louisiana into what it is today, a world-known and reputed institution for modern art.
The Sauna Principle
One of the traits the museum especially became known for, is Jensen’s ‘sauna principle‘. Summarized this principle consists of the idea of combining ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ exhibitions. A ‘hot’ exhibition would be an exhibition of an artist, which the public would already knew. The ‘cold’ exhibition would be of an artist lesser known or maybe not even known by the public at all. When combining both the audience, when visiting the museum for a more popular exhibition, is actually introduced to art they would otherwise not come and see.
For us too this ‘sauna principle’ worked well. We saw many fantastic works of the names most of us will know. Yet, the exhibitions of the Chinese Architect Wang Su – as part of the new Architect Studio’s series – and the South African artist William Kentridge were refreshing, interesting and beautiful as well.
Louisiana’s Sculpture Garden
We love sculpture gardens, as you may have realized when following this blog. Thus, when entering the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, its sculpture park was almost the first place we wanted to start our tour of the museum with. We would almost want to say, that we decided to save the best for last, but that would not do just to the other exhibitions we saw. Nevertheless, with some 60 art objects of artists like Miro, Calder and Henry Moore throughout the gardens of the museum and with a view over the Sound, this was for sure one of the highlights of our visit.
Where some art objects really stand out from their environment, others seem to be blend in with their surroundings, be it the nature around it, the view over the Sound or the modernist buildings around.
While we were there at the start of spring, we can only imagine what the park will look like during the height of summer. Even in wintertime it should have a special feel. We will be back!
Lastly, what’s in the name
You may have wondered where the name Louisiana comes from. You might think it has something to do with the American state of Louisiana or with the founder. Well, this last part is partially true (and the first part isn’t). In fact the name dates back until the nineteenth century, when Alexander Brun built the house. Brun was married three times, every time to a woman with the name Louise. He apparently named the house after them. Jensen merely decided to ‘take over’ the name of the house.
Tips for visiting the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art:
- Look up here how to travel to Humlebæk by train from Copenhagen central station. Count the train ride to take about an hour. If you are lucky you can have a bit faster connection though.
- Once you come out of the train station, there will be signs guiding you to the museum. It’s about a ten minutes walk from the train station.
- Of course you can also rent a car and drive to the museum instead.
- From Tuesday to Friday the museum is open until 10 pm, something we love as non-early risers (and think much more museums should offer).
- Make sure to make some time to visit the museum’s restaurant/cafe. Apart from contemporary Danish cuisine with fresh seasonal produce, you will have a stunning view over the sculpture garden and the Sound.
- Are you visiting the museum with children? Check out the Louisiana Børnehus, the three-storey high children’s wing of the museum. Every day different workshops for children from 4 to 16 years old are being organized here. The workshops are all based upon the museums current exhibitions and the Louisiana’s collection.
- Apart from the exhibitions there are many other activities being organized, during daytime but also by night. Check the museum’s calendar to find out more.