Built into the former estate and villa of a man whose three wives were named Louise is the most-visited museum in Denmark. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, located 35 km north of Copenhagen, consistently captures the international modern and contemporary art world’s zeitgeist to a surprising degree considering its rural location in Humlebæk.
Overlooking the Øresund Sound (on the clearest days, visitors can see the Swedish province of Skania), the estate was named by the previous owner Alexander Brun, but it was his successor Knud Jensen who decided to create the museum in 1958. Hiring Danish architects to design an organic, circular-shaped building, he also sought to preserve and develop the 1856 villa that now houses a large part of the permanent collection.
The permanent collection of more than 3,000 post- 1945 works is the largest in Scandinavia, with works by Picasso, Giacometti, Dubuffet, Yves Klein, Warhol, Rauschenberg, and Philip Guston. In addition to the permanent collection, every year the museum holds four to six temporary exhibitions by modern and contemporary art in a series called Louisiana Contemporary.
The art, however, is not the only draw of the museum. The building itself is marvel, a study of strong, but not overpowering, contextual architecture, that still holds true to ideals of simple, elegant Scandinavian design. Additionally, the Louisiana Shop, as one of Denmark’s leading design stores, doles out the type of coffee table books and products that will (finally!) allow you to say that those sleek, eco-friendly lamps on your wall are not from Ikea.
To round out all their cultural offerings, Louisiana opened its own concert hall in 1976, in which they now host European musical acts as well as Louisiana Live, regularly-scheduled art conversations held on Tuesday and Thursdays.
For those more interested in a nature escape than a day of art or music, the grounds of museum offer walking trails throughout the Lake Garden as well as the Sculpture Garden, which peppers the seaside landscape with works by Henry Moore and Alexander Calder. Even the 10 minute walk to and from the Humlebæk Train Station is a welcome change from the hustle of Copenhagen, although it also shows visitors that there is really nothing else in Humlebæk besides countryside cottages and the museum.
And finally, when hunger strikes, the outdoor cafe serves artfully-prepared Danish fare–including, most importantly, herring and a deconstructed / post-modern smørrebrød.
Louisiana really finds the balance among nature, art, design and food, making it a worthwhile daytrip for city-weary travelers.
Access: There are regularly-scheduled DSB trains from the central Vesterbrogade station in Copenhagen to Humlebæk Station, which take approximately 45 minutes. Once departing the train, look for the signs to Louisiana. It is either a 15 minute walk, or a 5 minute bus ride, depending on your preferred mode. DSB also offers a discounted admission to Louisiana when buying the train ticket at the same time. Travelers from Sweden can get a discount with the Öresund Rundt ticket and with a ticket from Scandlines, HH-Ferries and Sundbusserne.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Gammel Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark – 4919 0719
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